Raspberry Pi Powers The Desk Of The Future

Recent science fiction movies always show people sitting at stylish semi-transparent desks that have all kinds of strange and wonderful gadgets in them. Our desks look like something your grandfather might have sat at. [Frederick Vandenbosch] must have seen those same movies so as part of contest he decided to build the desk of the future.

The desk is as much a furniture project as an electronics project, but it does have a Raspberry Pi, a scavenged laptop LCD, embedded touch sensors and LEDs, a wireless charger, and a built-in sound system. In addition, it uses a Gertbot and some stepper motors that it uses to raise and lower the screen in and out of the desk (watch the video below to see how that looks).

[Fredrick] used Python to get the major functions of the desk programmed. We couldn’t help but think of all the things you could do with an easily programmable desk surface: show stock quotes (or sports scores), notify about e-mail, or other things. Although it doesn’t look like it would be simple for a simple user to add those things, if you were a handy programmer, they look like they’d be in reach.

We’ve seen some desks before, but nothing quite like this. We couldn’t help but wonder if you could add some Minority Report-style goodness to [Frederick’s] already impressive desk.

32 thoughts on “Raspberry Pi Powers The Desk Of The Future

  1. You know, instead of the current desktop,he could use a 50″ flat panel and have it display circuit diagrams he’s working on.
    A plexiglass type overlay could be used to make a touch sensitive input.
    (just rambling on)

    1. I was thinking that until I saw how slow the thing boots! Looks like it’s timed to the boot speed, which I guess is ok.

      What worries me is the touch sensor to shut down the machine. One stray elbow and suddenly all your work is gone.

      1. Your PC isn’t a Raspberry Pi running Ubuntu. Ubuntu MATE takes forever to boot up on the Pi vs other Pi OSes, however once it’s booted it is generally fast enough for daily use.

        Personally, as much as I love the Pi, I would have gone with a laptop with a broken screen for the base PC (keeping the other Pi to control the desk and lights, of course). You can get a very powerful “broken” laptop on eBay for not much more than a RPi 2, use its HDMI or VGA out, and your choice of OS is not limited. However, he may have been working with what he had on hand to keep costs down, or he may have wanted the feeling of accomplishment in using nothing but Raspberry Pis for his project.

  2. Aaaaand this is why we still use desks like our grandparents: because all those blinkenlights and motors add nothing to the experience. And I’d hate it if my monitor went away if I leaned on the desk with my hand.

    Nice build, though. Cute art project, at least.

  3. I have a 10 dollar door and two 12 dollar trestles as a desk. The door is good because it is cheap, light and has a stiff framework with a smooth skin, a single panel of equal thickness melamine or particle board would be either very heavy or floppy. Plus doors are usually 2 metres long and quite wide too, an equal sized desk was going to be 150 aus. I also use a section of extension cord as a belt, but that is just fashion.

      1. I’ve got a large solid core door (probably 4×7 feet) with oak veneer I rescued from a dumpster. It is the centerpiece of my wood shop. For legs I grabbed laminated oak panels that used to be sofa ends from the same dumpster.

  4. I kinda want to try something like this, but with pulleys working with 2 water buckets, so that as a peristaltic pump moves fluid from one container to the other it performs the lift function…

  5. Props for the build, but really should have just used a laptop strapped to the bottom feeding the video output to that monitor, that way he could raise and lower the screen faster. I’d probably lose my shit if I had to wait that long in an emergency.

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