A Table that Gets the Job Done

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A new project from the New York Times was sparked by the simple question: why do we seem to center all meetings, regardless of subject, on a table? Perhaps conference tables were more of a necessity before notes became almost entirely digital and wall projectors became the standard. NYT Labs found a way to incorporate the essentials for a successful meeting into this antiquated model with The Listening Table.

A simple tap on the table creates a ‘bookmark,’ which is collected in a transcript of other important moments.

Think of this as the first “smart” conference table; through an integrated recording device, the table listens to and documents all surrounding conversations. A simple tap on the table creates a ‘bookmark,’ which is collected in a transcript of other important moments. It even looks for key words within a conversation. Not only does this remove the tedious task of note-taking, it almost entirely eliminates the possibility for human error; say you fall asleep, missed the meeting altogether, or you simply write something different from what was actually said, the Listening Table has got your back.

That being said, the designers carefully considered the possibility that the electronic ear, inspired by such innovations as Apple’s Siri, may border on the line of espial. A central microphone with flashing LEDs combats this concern, immediately communicating the function of the table to those gathered around and establishing a sense of trust. With a memory of merely four weeks, the Listening Table avoids today’s threat of permanence that comes with the use of social media platforms and online communication. NYT Labs is heading in an exciting direction as they continue to investigate developing technologies and evaluate their relevance in the world of news and media — we can hardly wait to see what’s next.

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Lizzie Wright

Lizzie

​Lizzie Wright is an aspiring artist and designer with a passion for the written word. While she works on her BFA in Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), she spends her (rare) spare time riding around Providence on her trusty Cannondale and drinking lots of coffee. She is especially fascinated by the dichotomy between aesthetic form and function, which has an immense influence on her work. As a lover of the natural world, Lizzie plans to focus on Nature, Culture, and Sustainability Studies to pursue a more efficient future for design. Read more by visiting her website

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