The Storytelling Table is a specially designed piece of furniture which offers space to up to six elderly users. The table will have its own spot in one of the communal rooms of the Twiske home for the elderly in North-Amsterdam. On built-in flatscreens users have access to musical, film and television material of 20th century Dutch cultural life, from cabaret to the coronation of Queen Wilhelmina. The inhabitants of the Twiske Home can add their comments, gossip and stories. These are archived and can be listened back. The Storytelling Table thus develops over time into a databank of stories.

ICT has the capacity to stimulate people to take part in the social process. Specific user groups however, like elderly people and people with a mental disability for instance, have trouble using complicated multimedia solutions. The research-group Interfacing Access of Waag Society questions interface technology and the interaction models between man and machine.

In the project Storytelling Table Waag Society researches what the conditions are for a high-quality, interactive experience-based environment for inhabitants of a home for the elderly. Central in this is that they themselves are content producers and don't just navigate through existing content.

The challenge is to design an interface that doesn't require elderly users to learn a completely new skill (of which typing is the most simple example) but one that fits in with their abilities. What is needed is a tactile interface which is used as intuitively as possible. The interface is based on the idea that all interaction is done with just two 'smart' buttons. Research has been done as to what are the most basic user actions. The method Waag Society uses is that of 'users as designers' and 'rapid prototyping'. On the basis of tests with the future users the prototype is being developed in small steps and continuous adjustment.

The Storytelling Table is a co-production of Waag Society and Hans Muller. If this pilot production proves to be successful, the Storytelling Table will be produced for more homes for the elderly. The Storytelling Table is made with support of Senter Technology & Society, the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, and Amsterdam North.