With no water, Japanese rock gardens - also known as "dry landscape" or "Zen" gardens - feature an area of gravel or sand that is designed to symbolize the sea, ocean, rivers or lakes. The act of raking the sand or gravel into patterns is practiced by Zen priests to help their concentration and has even found its way into offices with pint-sized desktop units for those looking to clear their minds at work. If you think your mind is clear enough already, are after a bit more variety from your raked sand designs and like your Zen in a table form factor then the Zen Table ticks all the boxes.

The brainchild of San Clemete-based inventor Simon Hallam, the Zen Table is essentially a tempered glass-topped table with a Japanese rock garden - minus any rocks - and a robotic Zen priest trapped inside. Instead of sand or gravel, the Zen table features a layer of microscopic silicone beads, underneath which is a sculpting head attached to a robotic mechanism driven by electric motors that move the head along the X- and Y-axes to carve the grooves into the beads and create patterns and images.

Currently there are plans for a coffee table version and a desktop-sized unit, both of which are constructed from FSC certified renewable bamboo and feature an SD card slot for uploading the programs to sculpt the patterns or images into the sand. The coffee table unit also features dimmable built-in lighting and offers the option of an inbuilt 3G modem for receiving new sculpting programs via 3G. There are also iPhone/Android apps on the way that allow users to play games or display text messages on the 3G model. Both the coffee table and desktop units can also be directly controlled by a computer via USB.

Hallam successfully reached his Kickstarter funding goal of US$25,000 on February 3, with $499 entitling bidders to a desktop Zen table in kit form, $749 the price for a fully assembled desktop model, and $4,999 and $7,499 the commitments required for a full-sized Zen Coffee Table and 3G model respectively. Hallan says the technology behind the Zen table is also scalable and could be built into bars, desks in hotel lobbies or resorts.

Hallam's video pitch for Kickstarter can be seen below.

Source: Kickstarter via BornRich

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    About the Author

    Darren Quick

    Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.

    All articles by Darren Quick



    • Back in the day we had one that looked like a cheap laptop we called it an Etch-a-Sketch.

    • I love this robotic Etch a Sketch! I could never do a good job with the toy when I was little and I think that robotics are an elegant and fun way to make the sand create the images I could never create when I fumbled with those two dials on the toy. Well done!

      Carlos Grados
    • I had this idea a week ago, story of my life :P


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