Salsa Box adds a little flavor to the tiny house movement
By Adam Williams May 25, 2014
The Salsa Box tiny house, by Portland, Oregon-based Shelter Wise (Photo: Shelter Wise)
The Salsa Box, by Portland, Oregon-based Shelter Wise, offers yet another take on very small-scale living. Completed earlier this year, and available to purchase from US$22,500, this particular tiny house stands out from the growing crowd with a build quality and interior layout that makes living in a 9 sq m (96 sq ft) space seem not only technically possible, but perhaps even appealing.
Salsa Box sports 'Low-E' efficient windows, which are more reflective, but also offer more...Salsa Box features a small porch with green roof that can be pulled down (Photo: Shelter W...Judging from the photos, the Salsa Box looks to be finished to a high standard (Photo: She...Salsa Box doesn't fall into the familiar trap of looking like an overpriced shed on wheels...View all
The Salsa Box was first conceived as a demonstration model to show workshop students what's involved in building a tiny house, and from there evolved into a purchasable product. As standard, the dwelling measures 3.5 x 2.4 m (12 x 8 ft), but there are also larger 4.8 m (16 ft), 5.4 m (18 ft), and 6 m (20 ft) long versions available.
It's built using FSC (or Forest Stewardship Council – an international non-profit organization that promotes responsible forest management) certified wood and sports a metal roof, along with efficient low-emissivity (Low-E) windows, which offer more insulation than standard windows.
Alongside the kitchenette is a small wardrobe
Judging from the photos available, the Salsa Box looks finished to a high standard and comes equipped with a queen-sized bed that sleeps two, plus amenities such as an electrical hookup, a flushing toilet, an electric hot water heater, a combined shower and mini-tub, and a kitchenette.
There's a fair amount of storage too – though this has subsequently reduced usable floorspace to an absolute minimum and it's a very tight squeeze. Indeed, as is the case with all similarly-sized homes, living in the Salsa Box full time would require some pretty big lifestyle changes.
There's about as much shelving and storage as one could reasonably expect in such a tiny s...
Shelter Wise informed Gizmag that the Salsa Box can optionally be rigged to go fully off-grid. The flushing toilet can be swapped out for a composting toilet, solar power can be added, and a water catchment system can be affixed to the roof.
The Salsa Box doesn't need a permit to tow as it can fit on a standard trailer, and if required, it can also be modified to rest on foundations.
Source: Shelter Wise
Roombots can transform into reconfigurable furniture
By Lakshmi Sandhana May 23, 2014
Reconfigurable Roombot modules can attach to existing furniture, or rearrange themselves to create furniture of any shape (Photo: Biorobotics Laboratory, EPFL)
Envision small robotic modules, lifting the lid of a storage box, spilling out, rearranging themselves to be the box's legs and transporting it to where you might be seated. That's exactly what Swiss researchers are aiming to create with Roombots, reconfigurable robotic modules that connect to each other to transform themselves into any type of furniture and change shape when needed (from a chair to a table, for example). Designed to help the disabled or elderly, by morphing to suit their needs, the adaptive robotic furniture modules can even be attached to existing furniture to give greater flexibility and the power to move.
A chair from 12 Roombots modules, and a typical office chair for size comparison (Photo: B...A stool from Roombots modules (Photo: Biorobotics Laboratory, EPFL)A table from Roombots modules and L-shaped passive pieces (Photo: Biorobotics Laboratory, ...A stool from 12 Roombots modules and passive pieces (Photo: Biorobotics Laboratory, EPFL)View all
Created by the Biorobotics Laboratory (BioRob) at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the self-assembling Roombots can band together to make static furniture like a box, a sofa or a wall. They attach to each other via connectors which enables them to take on the desired shape. The team's main goal is to create self-assembling interactive furniture that can be used in a variety of ways.
Rendered vision of a table being assembled by Roombots modules, using lightweight elements...
For instance, a person lying down on a Roombot bed, could slowly be moved into a seated position, or a table could scoot over to a corner or tilt itself to help a book slide into a person's hands. The team has solved a number of significant milestones, such as the having the Roombots move freely, to bring all this multi-functionality closer.
"We start from a group of Roombot modules that might be stacked together for storage," Massimo Vespignani, a PhD student at BioRob, tells Gizmag. "The modules detach from this pile to form structures of two or more modules. At this point they can start moving around the room in what we call off-grid locomotion. We are currently trying to control larger structures, while trying to reduce as much as possible the energy consumption and impacts with the ground."
The Roombots can even climb up a wall or over a step, when the surface is outfitted with connector plates. They're are also capable of picking up connector plates and arranging them to form, say, a table's surface.
"A single module can autonomously reach any position on a plane (this being on the floor, walls, or ceiling), and overcome a concave edge," says Vespignani. "In order to go over convex edges two modules need to collaborate."
A miniature-table from Roombots modules and 4 plates (Image: Biorobotics Laboratory, EPFL)
Aside from helping the elderly, the Roombots could be used to create interactive art, programmable conference rooms, fun robotic kits or come in handy on search and rescue or space missions.
"The advantage would be that the modules can be tightly packed together for transportation and then can reconfigure into any type of structure (for example a robotic manipulator)," explains Vespignani.
The team is giving the Roombots the ability to attach themselves to passive elements and structures, too, allowing them to be manipulated more easily.
"We can 'augment' existing furniture by placing compatible connectors on it and attaching Roombots modules to allow it to move around the house," says Vespignani.
A snake-like structure made of Roombots modules (Photo: Biorobotics Laboratory, EPFL)
Currently engaged in improving the robustness and reliability of the Roombots modules, the team hopes to have them ready for industrial development in about 15 years time.
"Our ultimate goal is for sure to improve the quality of life," Vespignani tells us. "There are still a lot of research questions and technical challenges to solve. I would say they could be in the market in 20 years."
The team's paper on the research is due for publication in the Journal Robotics and Autonomous Systems (July 2014)
The video below demonstrates the reconfigurable abilities of the Roombots.
Source: BioRob EPFL