Using a computer is often about negotiating space, both in how much your tablet, laptop, or desktop computer takes up, and how you organize the digital spaces they hold. Something that blends computing technology with functional furniture should be an interesting opportunity to rethink both at the same time.
The Lumina Desk, while clearly very early, seems like the solid first take on that premise. It puts a 24-inch OLED screen in a height-adjustable desk, ideally letting you put distracting apps away from your line of sight so that you can focus on what’s in front of you.
No touchscreen — There are some limitations with how Lumina imagines its desk will work. First things first, it’s not an external monitor, you can’t just mirror your screen on the bottom display or freely drag app windows between them.
Instead, Lumina’s running its own operating system — Lumina OS — with its own apps developed by the company for popular services like Google Calendar or Slack. Lumina says it’ll offer an SDK for third-party developers to make their own apps, hopefully opening up the potential of the desk display even more. It’ll include a configuration app for the desk that’s compatible with Windows and macOS as well.
Glanceable information — The content Lumina wants to put on the display is also currently limited to passive experiences; there’s no touchscreen to accidentally set off with an errant mug or mouse, which means everything you put down there is supposed to be glanceable.
It’s a limitation I’d personally like to see the company remove. I probably don’t need something as involved as Razer’s Project Sophia, which builds in a whole gaming PC and touchscreen displays into a desk, but I’d like to have the option to just extend my display to my table if that makes more sense.
Is this viable? — Beyond the display, the Lumina Desk has an ample selection of ports (six power outlets and six USB-C ports), support for wirelessly charging gadgets on the desk itself, and the ability to schedule when the desk switches from sitting to standing.
What is important here is how a “smart desk” might change how you work and how you organize information around you. Power users set up external monitors for Twitter feeds or stock tickers, but imagine if you could more easily prioritize, or de-prioritize, that information by putting it in another piece of furniture.
The same goes for what quality information you choose. Some notifications might make sense for a display, but others could be offloaded to a different format, like the designs Google’s Seed Studio is exploring that use subtle light cues and puffs of air to convey information.
Even if I think Lumina’s desk is a bit too ambitious for a startup best known for a webcam, the ideas are strong and point to untapped potential. Lumina hopes to ship the Lumina Desk in the second half of 2023, for a yet to-be-determined, but likely mid-$1,000 price.
In the meantime, the race to build the first great piece of smart furniture is on, and I couldn’t be more excited to one day put Slack somewhere else entirely.