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Photograph by Jason Madara

Inside the Interactive and LED-Inflused Coffee Table

Jeffrey McGrew & Jillian Northrup
Founders, Because We Can Oakland
California

McGrew, 35, and Northrup, 32, are a husband-and-wife design team who have completed projects for Wikipedia, Clif Bar, and Timbuk2, and recently collaborated with open-source hardware designers Evil Mad Science to create interactive LED-infused coffee tables.

McGrew: "We have three tables -- the Wave, the Ripple, and the Pulse -- with the same lighting on the inside. They see change and light up in response. If you set something down on it, it lights up, but then calms down and stops twinkling. When you move that item, it will light back up again."

Northrup: "We wanted to showcase two different ways you can use light. The Wave typically has a glass top, so you're seeing everything -- the circuit board, the LEDs, the patterns they're making. The Ripple and the Pulse are more of a secret because they have this frosted top that just looks like a really nice table. When you interact with one of them, it becomes more than a table. You get this second, wonderful experience."

McGrew: "The two big problems LEDs have always had -- they weren't very bright and were very expensive -- are going away. We're leveraging whatever we can get our hands on to help us make cool stuff."

Photograph by Jason Madara

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