Interactive table cloth

interactive_tablecloth.jpgThe Interactive table cloth concept from Clemens Winkler, a German student of art and design at Burg Giebichenstein creates ‘signs of time as traces on a surface’ as he describes the starting point for the Interactive table cloth project.

The magic aspect of the interactive table cloth comes from the unexpected appearance of marks during interaction with the table cloth when putting a hand on the table or placing items like coffee mugs or glasses.

The interactive table cloth records the last interaction for example a dinner with your friend, a party or celebration. When you come back and active the table cloth, you will see the ‘sings of times’ passed on your table cloth.

Clemens used two technologies from the e-textile toolbox: conductive yarns controlled by a LilyPad unit and thermo chromic ink that changes color by changing the temperature.

You might have guessed already: placing a conductive / resistive yarn beneath the Thermo chromic ink pattern triggers a color change along the conductive yarn.

To activate the heat generation, Clemens integrated sensors all over the interactive table cloth so when something is placed on the table a pre-defined area of pattern will become visible by changing the color, leaving the magical sign of time.


The table cloth is build up of three layers, the top layer with thermo chromic ink printing, the middle layer containing the conductive threads forming the signs and the bottom layer with the e-textile parts around the LilyPad which coordinates the sensor input and heating. A highly inspirational work I strongly recommend to have a look at. Clemens published a very detailed overview on how he made this table cloth interactive on his ‘digital traces’ blog.

The Interactive table cloth is by far more elegant and magical way to leave signs of life on a table cloth then leaving your sign mark by spilling your coffee – right?!


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