AR (Augmented Reality) Desk

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Introduction: AR (Augmented Reality) Desk

About: I grew up at a time when technologies were transparent and easy to understand, but now society is evolving toward insanity and incomprehensibility. So I wanted to make technology human. At the age of 12, I...

The world needs a new kind of desk!

Desks used to be deep, to accommodate big heavy computer video display units, cathode-ray displays, computer monitors, or the like, that many people don't use or need anymore.

Today we wear (or carry) our computers with us, so we no longer need the cluttered desk.

No monitors, no printers (paperless), no scanners (there's an app for that!).

So I propose a sleek and slender desk that's wide, but only about 12 inches deep == just deep enough for a standard laptop computer, or notepad, if needed.

My office at Meta in Silicon Valley, California, had a fat desk (about 6 feet wide and 3 feet deep) made of plastic-coated particle board, and it was warped and bent like most particle board desks tend to become.

So I replaced it with a single slab of solid redwood, 10 feet wide and only 1 foot deep.

This sleek and slender desk brought me right up close to the windows so I could enjoy the nice view up on the hill overlooking Silicon Valley's beautiful San Mateo county.

This Instructable shows how to prepare a very nice sleek and slender desk that will help you declutter and open up your office space and encourage collaboration (I often have 3 or 4 people sitting at my desk with me now that it is free of clutter). Optionally, you can add a SWIM (Sequential Wave Imprinting Machine) that provides a nice phenomenal augmented reality (Real Reality™) element that plays well with wearable computing and Digital Eye Glass such as the EyeTap.

Step 1: Choose the Material From Which to Make Your Desk

I chose redwood, because redwood reminds me of Silicon Valley, California, where I live with my wife and 2 children, among the redwood trees that are indigenous to this area.

I live in Palo Alto, a city that's named after the tall redwood trees that grow here. "Palo" means "tree" and "Alto" means "tall".

The redwood tree is the logo of the City of Palo Alto, and also the logo of Stanford University where I'm a Visiting Full Professor.

And redwood has amazing rot resistance and longevity, and great strength-to-weight ratio (it is very strong and lightweight). We've taken the desk on the road and moved it a number of times for photo shoots, etc., so I'm glad it is strong and light (unlike most other desks which are made of particle board which is heavy and weak and fragile)!

Step 2: Finish the Wood Surface

My desk was very popular and we're making quite a few of them now, so we tend to make them in batches to simplify the workflow.

I worked with one of my former students, Alex to get the redwood and finish the surfaces, etc.. All finishing was done by hand, using just sandpaper and a block of wood or the like to hold it. We started with #60 and went up to #400, then finished and sanded lightly and refinished, etc., eventually leading to a high gloss finish for a smooth ride of our robotic railcar.

The first desk was 10 feet long by 1 foot deep by 3 inches thick dimensional (11.5 inches deep by 2.5 inches thick, finished).

The second desk was 12 feet long, and 4 inches (3.5 inches finished), and the same depth.

We made a number of desks and decided to use a standard depth (11.5 inches) on all of them, so that the augmented reality SWIM mechanism could be interchanged between any of them. If you're not using the SWIM, you can ignore this standard and just use whatever depth you like.

The ends should be cut off square, and then the wood should be stacked under weights, with wooden strips for spacers, and stored in a dry place until it is thoroughly dried, and then finished to keep out moisture.

When we cut the ends off, we saved the sawdust for patch work.

I prefer wood without knots so the railcar slides smoothly, but I also liked the piece we chose with a knot near one end which adds a nice touch for running wiring through.

We finished most of the desks in polyurethane for durability and high gloss finish so the SWIMbot railcar rides quickly along the track formed by the surface. The railcar is made from a 2-foot (24-inch) long piece of redwood, with felt sliders or skateboard wheels (see last 2 pictures above). SWIM is covered in some of my other Instructables, but if you're not including the SWIM, you can skip the railcar.

Step 3: If You're Including the SWIM, Test the Railcar and SWIM

If you choose to add the SWIM (Sequential Wave Imprinting Machine), construct and test the railcar and SWIM.

We made the SWIM from 1200 LEDs on a modular strip, with 100 LEDs on each strip. See some of my other Instructables regarding SWIM.

The waves depicted are sound waves, as processed using the SYSU & Mannlab Scientific Outstruments™ lock-in amplifier.

This calibrates with an augmented reality headset, so you can create virtual and augmented environments.

Initial testing and concept development was done in my garage behind my house in Palo Alto.

Step 4: Modify (for Slenderization) and Install the Legs

In one instance, I chose to use the motorized legs salvaged from my old particle board desk.

The motorized legs allow the beam to be raised and lowered for either sit or stand use.

In other instances, I purchased an "ELECTRIC HEIGHT ADJUSTABLE DESK FRAME", from Lee Valley.

In any case, most of these frames are not wide enough and also too deep.

You may need to extend the cabling to get the wiring to the control box from the two legs being more distant from the control box, depending on the length of the cables.

Also the legs need to be trimmed.

What I usually do is rotate the leg bases 180 degrees and put forward what's normally at the back, and then cut off the excess.

In this way only 1 cut (rather than 2 cuts) is needed on each leg base.

In this case I decided to cut off 14 inches to allow a 2.5 inch rebate at the front, and 0 inches rebate at the back since it is pressed against the window frame and unable to tip backwards.

The top part that attaches to the desk also needs to be trimmed, and ideally finished with redwood blocks so as not to have sharp edges.

Also all sharp edges are ground and filed down.

Step 5: Enjoy the View

The sleek and slender desk design works well anywhere you have a nice floor-to-ceiling window. I usually like to paint the office black or dark grey behind the desk, to make it easier on the eyes when viewing augmented reality content. At Meta, for the front office, I chose a dark grey that matched Meta's existing colour scheme, so as to be kind to the existing paint job. In my own office, I used black foam core paper to prepare the environment to receive the desk. In other installations (Canada, China, etc.) we worked within existing constraints to create a nice environment (for example, for my office in Shenzhen we used black wallpaper).

Real Virtuality

If you have a window with a nice view, try putting your desk on a diet, and bringing yourself close to the window to connect with the outdoors. Although wearing a computer all the time is fun, don't forget to stay tuned to the beauty of the real reality that's all around you.

If you make something sleek and slender that declutters your office, click "I made it" and post some pictures.

Step 6: Optional Step: Add the SWIM (Sequential Wave Imprinting Machine)

As it is, the desk works great for small meetings with a few people and their laptop computers. You can up the ante by adding some AR (Augmented Reality) markers to the desk to create a virtual collaborative environment.

Additionally, you can add a SWIM (Sequential Wave Imprinting Machine) so you can see, share, touch, feel, and manipulate radio waves, sound waves, neuron action potentials, brainwaves, or the like....

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