Class Project April – June 2016

My Contributions Physical Prototyping, UX

My friend Raj and I were tasked with creating a table, chair or lamp that used Arduino based logic to respond to external stimuli. We chose to address the phenomena of tabletop clutter by providing auditory feedback to represent and possibly influence table hygiene habits.


An early representation of the concept presented in class

The role of a table changes a lot throughout the day. Our early explorations of interactive tables were tailored to a specific scenarios, like splitting the bill for shared orders at a restaurant. However, it was hard to find a problem space big or common enough that called for computer components. If we were going to build Arduino into a piece of furniture, we wanted it to be more than added weight a majority of the time.


We soon became interested in how a table might be interactive without trying to force any one action to streamline through its design, instead adapting to the ongoing evolution of a table's use. Music was an appealing method for feedback due to it's ability to convey rich information in a time based manner.


The initial UX concept broken down into measurable variables and basic logic


Properties of hardware and materials played a central role in defining our design. A lot of time was spent figuring out what sensors to use, and how to calibrate them to give us consistent data. It was a major hurdle that had to be cleared before the music generating aspect of the table could be developed, but the insights it provided informed both the form and the logic of the final product.

Dividing the table surface into triangular planes with sensors in each corner is the best way to get consistent readings across sensors. It makes sense if you look at the geometry of planes.

Sensors require a small contact point to focus the weight from the table surface, and it has to be a button. This doesn't make sense, but it was the only thing besides direct finger contact that gave us any readings.


The surface of the table is divided into eight triangles with a pressure sensor at each corner. The readings from each sensor are converted into a midi signal which controls the volume of an audio sample.

Insights from the properties of the sensors scaled into the final design