Beautiful Touch-Sensitive Furniture


It’s taken over a year, but [tinkering techie] has finally completed his touch sensitive nightstand. At first glance, it looks like any normal piece of furniture. With the addition of an Arduino, some copper clad board, and a few LEDs, he’s turned it into a very elegant, electronic home furnishing.

The nightstand is built out of a few very nice pieces of mahogany. Underneath the top of the nightstand, three Kapton-covered copper clad boards are inset along the front and side edges. These capacitive sensing boards are connected to an Arduino Fio that reads the capacitance of these sensors and turns on a small LED under the drawer or the mains powered lamp.

The electronics are powered by a small USB charger with a battery backup all hidden underneath the top of the nightstand. Inside the drawer, a magnetic reed switch turns on an RGB LED whenever the drawer is opened.

While the nightstand itself is a wonderful piece of woodworking, we need to tip our hat for a remarkably seamless integration of fine furniture and electronics. The electronic furniture modifications we usually see are Ikea cruft, but this wonderful homemade nightstand should last decades or centuries.

Video of [techie] going over his build below

15 thoughts on “Beautiful Touch-Sensitive Furniture

    1. I hear the new solid state capacitors are supposed to last a while. I was happy to see them on the last motherboard I purchased. I’ve had enough electrolytics capacitors fail on me over the years now.

    2. This shouldn’t be too hard, just use 10x overrated components for everything, use only ceramic or dry foil capacitors and limit inrush currents wherever possible. The limiting factor in today’s electronics is probably the life of the flash memory, and the more modern SLC flash is often rated at 100 years retention. A 10x overrated (both voltage and current) mains SMPS is probably going to be quite large though so you should go with a classic transformer based one, properly made transformers rarely fail without a very good reason.

  1. Now make the lights dimmable via sliding on the sensors. Shouldn’t be that hard, you only have one line going to each pad it looks like. Should be able to calculate the capacitance of the sensor based upon the distance away from the main connection your finger is. Farther == darker; Closer == brighter

    great hack, but i’m more impressed with your craftsmanship while building the table. great work on the whole build man! I’m totally jelly

    1. When I was planning the build this was one of the ideas that I explored. Unfortunately the feedback from the sensor is fairly crude, so it would have to use a segmented sensor and I didn’t want to complicate things. The interesting thing is that the pads are so large that it actually starts picking you up a couple inches away, so there’s a threshold for “touch” as well as a minimum amount of time that counts as a touch. Thanks for checking it out.

  2. I can’t remember how many times I’ve opened a drawer and said “Boy, if only this had a tri-color controllable light inside. Nothing said good junk drawer like when it’s lit up in bright green”.

    Talk about OVER engineered, put a photo sensor on the bottom night light, a leaf switch on the drawer light (and white should be more then enough choices) and then make a touch sensor on the lamp. Simple, no microcontroller required, and doesn’t need an instruction manual to go with the furniture.

    1. I made it as a wedding gift for a fellow engineer, so the over-engineering was part of the fun. Your method would get the job done too, but I don’t think he would have enjoyed the gift as much. Plus, setting your drawer color to red will preserve your night vision :-)

  3. My dad made one of those in the 70s without a microcontroller and was dimmable with touch. I don’t have the circuit diagram but i know it was all analog as that was all he used in his projects.

  4. 3 touch strips and this color selection thing all seem like overkill to me. You just want to select a color for the drawer once, so doing this with the touch strips isn’t really needed.
    Also, 3 touch strips of which at least one will never be used (the one away from the bed). I think it would have been a lot cleaner if he’d just used the knob on drawer for capitative input.

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