Willem Velthoven

Symbolic Table: 100% interface-free media player

Mediamatic Atelier RFID project. Not only for children and geriatrics.

Symbolic Table is an interface-free media player. A cultural tool for those who want to work with media without any hassle. It is not an appliance, but a simple table. There are no buttons, no knobs. If you put something on the table, then the table will play the video (or the sound) that goes with that object. The object is a symbol for sound or image. If you take the object off, the video will pause. If you put something else on the table, something else will play. That is all.


Symbolic Table Prototype - Tabula Rasa. The physical Symbolic Tables try to be as simple as possible in their presentation. Plain, white, easy to modify. There's a drawer for accessories. Dimensions: 75 x 75 x 105 cm Willem Velthoven


Tabula Rasa

Symbolic Table is developed as a cultural tool. The table is blanco. As simple as a hammer, but with a wide range of applications. It is used for developing projects where the border between the tactile and the medial is broken. For projects where the interaction is so simple, it never has to stand in the way of the content. For projects that need to be usable without having to think about the usage. That is not only nice for toddlers and seniles: most people would rather use normal things than an advanced interface. That is why the advanced part of the Symbolic Table is under the table. The user no longer mans the tool, the user plays with symbols.

The table is very simple and its features can be programmed by anyone. The objects can have all kinds of shapes and sizes: from a shrimp to a football, from a busticket to a bible. Even living creatues (yes, that means you) can have a RFID card injected (or stapeled to their ear) and play on the table. The tagged objects are read by the table and linked to one or more sounds or videos.

Symbolic Table is a new tool that is based on Prior Art. Read about my great examples here.

Technology Symbolic Table 01

The Symbol: The table recognizes the objects by means of their RFID-tag. RFID tags are wireless readable labels that can easily be put on or in objects. A stuffed animal, a postcard or a coffee cup, everything can be a symbol. Each symbol is linked to one or more AV files in the built in website of the table.

Technology under the table: in the tabletop there are a compact Linux PC, the RFID reader and high quality loudspeakers. For tables with image, there is a bright and sharp beamer as well. The software is open source and can be operated from a distance via internet. The table also works without an internet connection. For maintenance only a temporary internet connection is needed.

Technical specifications Symbolic Table 01

type of tags: 125 kHZ low frequency EM4102 (unique) tags
read space: 25 x 25 cm above the tabletop (depend on the shape of the tag)
power supply: 230 volt 250 va (audio) 530 va (video)
network connection: RJ45 100 Mbit ethernet
weight: 12 - 17 kg (depends on the size and version)

translated by Nadya Peek