Ancient Japanese people believed that gods lived in all things, whether animate or inanimate. Talking to a wall was not an idle act, but actually a kind of soul-searching. And usually, the wall talked back.

In a Blue Mood

Now a table and a set of chairs embodies that philosophy. Called Fuwapica, which loosely translated means "soft and flashy," the furniture senses people’s presence and gradually changes colors accordingly. The interactive set, which could be in shops, airports, museums, or bars within a year or two, uses technology to extend people’s emotional state into a room that may be devoid of ancient ideas.

"We want modern people like us to remember that there was an interaction between people and furniture," said Ichi Kanaya, assistant professor at Osaka University.

In a typical scenario, a person might walk into a room furnished with Fuwapica, place a memento or favorite item — let’s say a blue vase — on the table and sit on one of the chairs. Gradually the chairs begin to change from white to blue.

Kanaya and his team, working out of the university’s Mongoose Studio, designed a round table that has a computer and built-in LCD display and four air-cushioned chairs. The table and chairs are linked to each other via a wireless signal. Color sensors in the table scan objects placed on top to determine their hue and then the computer sends a signal to the chair to match the color of the object.

The brightness is controlled by pressure sensors inside the chair. These measure the air pressure and send that information to the table’s computer. The higher the pressure, the brighter the color.

"It’s a wonderful demonstration of integrating high-tech into lifestyle experiences," said Jonathan Cagan, professor of engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, and co-author of "The Design of Things to Come."

"It focuses on the pleasure that people receive from the interaction, not on the technology."

Chair color is not only dictated by objects placed on the table. A casual sitter will also illicit a response from the "chair gods."

"For example, imagine that a heavy person sat on the sofa. The sofa would change its color from white to red, as if the blood pressure was rising high," said Kanaya.

The thing Kanaya and his team need to be sure of, said Cagan, is that the furniture behaves consistently and seamlessly and that the technology is robust. You don’t want to have to reboot your chair.

"As soon as it fails, the experience of the chair fails," said Cagan.

Whether embedded with technology or not, all furniture is breathing and talking said the researchers. If you cannot hear it, ancient Japanese philosophy might suggest you need to inspect the silence inside yourself.

Via: Discovery Channel