Carnegie Mellon University

Ordinary to Extraordinary

Alumni startup blends digital world with built environments to transform daily interactions

By Amanda S. F. Hartle and Eric Hoffman

As part of a master’s degree project at Carnegie Mellon University’s Integrated Innovation Institute, alumni and 2019 graduates Gaurav Asthana and Matthew Dworman were searching for a new way for people to access information exactly when and where they need it.

Their idea: A seamless fusion of well-crafted furniture and technology.

And with that lightbulb moment, Touchwood Labs was born in June 2020.

At Touchwood Labs, your coffee table can update you on your stocks, alert you to changing weather conditions and display your interactive to-do list. Outside the home, a booth at your favorite restaurant booth can display menus, verify orders and take payments, and in school environments the possibilities for education are infinite.

Following their official launch at TechCrunch Disrupt in September, the company received a grant from startup incubator AlphaLab Gear in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood.

For co-founders Gaurav, Touchwood’s chief operations officer, and Matthew, the company’s chief executive officer, you shouldn’t feel like you have to move between the physical and digital worlds, every time you pick up your phone, tablet or laptop.

“We want technology to blend in seamlessly and more naturally to the point where it’s actually enabling us and empowering us,” Gaurav said.