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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 August 2007, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Furniture puts on chameleon show
By Mark Ward
Technology correspondent, BBC News website, San Diego

Interactive table and chairs
Sensors are embedded in the furniture
An interactive table-and-chairs set that can change colour has been developed by Japanese researchers.

On display at the Siggraph show, the Fuwapica furniture uses sensors embedded in the table-top to work out the colour of items placed upon it.

The colours of the stools then change to match the colour of whatever has been placed on the sensitive table-top.

The stools' sensors work out the weight of anyone sitting on them - heavier people are treated to darker shades.

Pulsing colours

The circular table acts as the central control point for the four stools. Sensors sit beneath a glass plate on the top of the table and scan any object placed on it.

The sensors bounce red, green and blue light off the objects and record which hues are reflected.

An Apple Mac buried in the table then sends wireless messages to the four stools, which project light through their translucent shells to match, as closely as possible, the colour of the object on the table top.

Interactive table and chairs
Heavier people are treated to darker coloured chairs

The colours are also made to pulse lighter and darker at about the same tempo of human breathing in a bid to make the stools seem more life-like.

Placing many objects on the table-top makes the system mix and merge colours to match the shades seen in the collection of artefacts.

The designers suggest that people can change the colour of the chairs to match their mood.

Dreamed up by Shinya Matsuyama and colleagues from the Studio Mongoose design company in Japan, the Fuwapica furniture draws on the country's ancient notions that gods inhabit all manmade objects, be they chopsticks, dishes or tables.

The designers say that instead of furniture being inert and silent, it should be given a chance to interact with the people that use it.


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