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TL12+ SmartBed

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2024 issue.

This is intended for luxury staterooms, or use planet side in really upscale homes or hotels.

The ‘bed’ is a 2.5m×2.5m (standard, available larger or smaller) array of 1 mm across hexagonal rods. Each rod is made of electroactive polymer and can retract to be as short as 1 cm or as long as 1m. At the top end of the rod is a Peltier junction which allows that spot to be heated or cooled.

Sensor arrays are arranged above the bed and in the headboard along with several deep IR projectors and fans. A decent AI monitors them and controls the system and interfaces to the cabin controls, including grav plates. When the user approaches the area, they can either vocally request the bed, or the AI will try to anticipate what they want.

In normal “bed” mode, the rods extend 50 to 75 cm above the floor, depending on the user’s height and stored preferences. Upon their sitting or lying down, the AI uses the sensor array to track their bone position, stress on joints, pressure on the rods, skin temperature and other factors, then decides which rods to raise or lower to achieve optimum comfort. It adjusts the surface temperature of the bed on a rod-by-rod basis, so cold toes are warmed and a hot torso is cooled. If the upper surface of the body is detected to be too warm, the fans turn on and the air directed as needed. If the upper surface is too cool, the IR projectors are applied accordingly.  It will also adjust the local gravity to increase comfort - many people have psychological issues sleeping in free-fall, and even more have physiological issues (fluid retention, acid reflux, etc) that prevent that from being comfortable, so this is generally limited to lowering the bed-G to about 3 m/s2.

Massage functions are available on command, of course. Detection of muscle cramps during sleep automatically triggers this.

Users with handicaps are ‘helped’ out of the bed - the edge closest to their feet retracts slowly to deck level, while other parts help them rise to get out.

The bed also monitors and can recognise many inanimate objects - for example, placing a cup of coffee on the bed will result in the bed making a flat surface with no give that’s slightly larger than the cup.

The 2.5m×2.5m standard size is intended to allow any sleeping orientation, and to give some room for forming nightstands for things the sleeper wants nearby.

In the event of an emergency, the bed can lower the user to 2 cm above the deck, then raise all the rods around them to their full height, effectively safety-foam-packing them into the bed to avoid them being bounced out by sideway shocks.

During non-sleeping hours, the bed can form as recliners, easy chairs, stools, table and chairs, etc.

Fully retracted, it gives the cabin a much more roomy, open feel.

At TL12, these beds surcharge at around 5kcr per square meter, with the standard 2.5×2.5 being 30kcr.

A “stripped” version is available, which has a more limited sensor array and AI, relying on voice commands and a limited list of furniture options, for use in smaller cabins for half the price.

At TL13, generic versions are available for half the price. (15kcr/7.5kcr for standard, or 2500cr/1250cr per square meter). The rod tips and shafts are also color-programmable for quick decor changes.

At this point, “crossrods” beds are available at the full 5cr/m2 price. Each rod has 10 stub branches equally spaced along the shaft, and can extend them up to 10cm to link to other rods. This allows the formation of hollow spaces up to 20cm across in the bed, so cabinets or other storage spaces can be emulated. The bed surface over these spaces is less comfortable, so it’s commonly used for nightstand cabinets.Obviously, the bed can’t be fully retracted with something in them.

At TL14, this stripped version is available as a standard option on any stateroom, and  the normal version drops to 1kcr/m2, while crossrod beds drop to 2kcr/m2. A crossrod system on the top set of crossrods (branches on branches) removes the comfort issue and cabinets under the bed are possible without loss of comfort.

For 5kcr/m2 the option of adding ceiling rods and wall rods is available for 5kcr/m2 or 7kcr/m2 for both ceiling and wall rods. At this point, the cabin is reconfigurable on the fly. The AI has a good chat interface so “I want the bed here, and a locker on that wall, and a desk and chair here. No, shrink the desk 10%. Make the chair a bit higher.” works.

At TL15, this technology is available as a free upgrade for staterooms, and versions for use in homes drop to 100cr/m2for floor mounts or 250cr/m2 for floor/wall/ceiling sets.