The Ambient Furniture Project at the MIT Media Lab

Furniture is the infrastructure for human activity. Every day we open cabinets and drawers, share a conversation around a coffee table, relax into a lounge chair, and toss out trash. How can digital technology augment these gestures in subtle and delightful ways?

The Ambient Furniture Project involves working with researchers at the Media Lab at MIT to build these conceptual prototypes and put them into real-world usage for testing and usability feedback.

The Skype Cabinet is always on. No more setup, log-ins, bad lighting, or headphones. Each cabinet is a dedicated portal between you and your closest friends or family. Place it wherever you live most and assign a space to everyone you know. The translucent doors glow when your friends are nearby, and you can open the cabinet to start a conversation. With crystal clear sound and perfect lighting, you can share a special moment or just hang out together.

Like an instant photo album, the Facebook Coffee Table shows your digital photos right when you want them most. Real-time speech analysis understands keywords from your conversation and pulls up relevant Facebook feed photos while you're talking. Imagine describing your latest trip to the Rockies, and photos from the trip fade up to complement the conversation.

When you're serious about saving energy a monthly bill doesn't cut it. The energy clock gives you real-time, instant feedback on your household energy consumption. It learns your energy consumption habits, then gives you subtle feedback on how you're tracking against yourself. Sometimes a gentle reminder is all it takes to make a difference!

We all need moments of relaxation and respite to recharge throughout the day. Just sit back and reset your mood. Using the incline of your chair as a guide, the chair selects from your favorite Pandora stations. Whether it's edge of your seat rock'n'roll, or laid back lounge, the Pandora Chair plays the right tunes for your mood.

Early evenings are always a little hectic, but family planning just got a lot easier. The Google Latitude Doorbell plays subtle chimes to tell you when someone's on their way, and getting home soon. Knowing that Mom's ten minutes away lets you put the pasta on at exactly the right time. Each person in the house has their own signature chime.

Running out of something in the kitchen is a drag. Amazon Trash ends that problem forever. A bar code scanner zaps anything that needs restocking on the way out. Lift the lid, pause to scan, and then toss. Use it for every type of errand, from the hardware store to t supermarket, and you'll never run ou anything again.