Autonomous Desk is a self-adjusting sit/stand desk you can talk to


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Increasing awareness of the health risks associated with prolonged sitting is fuelling demand for sit/stand desks, so it’s time we also tackled the deleterious effects on mental health of having to put up with dumb desks while everything else in the office (and home office) is becoming smarter. New York-based robot maker and Kickstarter darling Autonomous (formerly Robotbase) is trying to do just that.

The Autonomous Desk, or the underlying idea of a smart standing desk, is proving to be quite popular on Kickstarter, where its creators have, as of this writing, raised more $100,000 against an original funding goal of $50,000. Although the company is also offering a frame-only $299 Maker & Hacker model and a $399 Basic model—both run-of-the-mill sit/stand desks—the $599 Smart variant is what has everyone buzzing.

Why this matters: Sales of sit/stand desks are booming. While this phenomenon might not be comparable in momentum to, say, the move from incandescent bulbs to LEDs, it presents anyone willing to think out of the box with a great opportunity to cash in. Autonomous is trying to do just that, probably hoping those already on the market for a sit/stand desk won’t mind going a step further. And in all fairness, this desk is quite affordable even when compared to many of its dumb peers.

Like most adjustable standing desks, the Autonomous Desk has a small control panel that lets you adjust the desk’s height to your liking. And for the sake of convenience, you can save up to four of your favorite height settings. But Autonomous says you won’t need the “memory pad” beyond the first few days. That, apparently, is how long it takes for the smart desk to familiarize itself with your adjustment habits and to start making those changes automatically, “as a natural part of your day.”

But what makes the Autonomous Desk truly smart is its built-in, voice-activated virtual assistant. You can use simple voice commands to get it to perform a number of quotidian office tasks for you—from scheduling meetings to ordering lunch to hailing a cab—or to control your connected-home (or should we say connected-office) devices.

According to the company, interested third-party developers will be able to build apps for the 120-pound desk using an Android-based SDK (software development kit) and make them available for public consumption via the Desk App Store. The desk has been confirmed to work with a number of leading web services and smart devices, including Nest, Philips Hue, Lockitron, Wolfram Alpha, and Yelp.

Expected to begin shipping in July, the smart desk includes USB charging ports, wireless charger, HD speaker, and bag and key hangers.

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