The best technology gets out of the way, is simple and unobtrusive when used.

As emerging interfaces demand our sight and attention, the simple act of adjusting the volume of a sound system often requires a concering amount of focus. Our eyes are needed to operate any touchscreen, and often we need to conjure a passcode.

This functional coffee table aims to address these issues with an non-interruptive way to make small audio adjustments, while at the same time allowing multiple users to change the volume to comfortable levels without gatekeeping.

This was a second, parallel project I undertook during the lockdown with no workshop access. I first made a model on Fusion360, and through Reddit found a neighboor with a 3D printer (and a very limited color selection).

With the continued need to be resourceful without a workshop due to the lockdown, I salvaged a tabletop and painted it. I then placed it on top of the 3D printed assembly and had a working volume controlling coffee table.
In this video I am exaggerating the volume adjustments to demonstrate the functionality.

Once regulations were eased, I reached out to two potential users with the aim of testing their reaction to the table. I first had them interact with the table freely, and took down their general feedback

Besides general feedback on the concept, I focused the test on two other aspects. First, I used the "Wizard of Oz" technique to simulate a working button to Pause/Play and Skip tracks. Although now shifting from the original premise, users enjoyed having more options to control the music.

Second, I put a taller table over the coffee table, which allowed users to control the volume with same oversized interface while the tabletop stayed still. They reported this as the most comfortable and useful scenario.

Moving forward, I am working with my brother Federico Witzke on the next generation of the table. This will take into account all of the user feedback from the tests and aim to improve on the aesthetics.

Here's an alternative version of the table that is supported interntally, and uses a bespoke Hall Effect enconder and magnets to detect rotation