What the hell is this thing?
July 11, 2018 12:01 PM   Subscribe

Hey Metafilter, can you help me figure out what this mystery object is that's in all our conference rooms? Me and another guy are losing our minds trying to figure it out. It's like this plastic "T" thing that obviously came with a phone or something. Exciting pictures inside!

Here are some pictures of the thing.

Here are some facts about the thing:
  • It's about six inches long and 2 inches high when put together.
  • It consists of two identical "T" shaped things made out of ABS plastic, each with three rubber pads on each end of the T. On the inside of each piece is the number 507-035
  • The parts have plastic clips and slots and fit together back to back into a single "T." I suspect they're supposed to go together.
  • When they're snapped together, it's obviously some sort of stand for something.
  • There is one of these in each of our conference rooms.

Each conference room has:
  • A Polycom Soundstation 2W conference phone. (I have found the manual for this phone but don't see this thing anywhere.)
  • A wall-mounted Polycom router-looking thing that is part of the conference system. I don't have a model #.
  • A Logitech wireless keyboard, mouse, remote, and a web-cam looking thing that looks like a big black tootsie pop on a base.
  • A small Dell desktop computer.
  • A large wall-mounted Sharp TV/Monitor
It would seem to me that this thing came with one of the components in the room and was not used so whomever installed the stuff just left it in the room for us to play with and wonder about during meetings.

I have googled for all the usual stuff. The part number, the Polycom stuff I have model #s for, etc. I'm pretty good with the Googles. Reverse GIS just turns up a bunch of house numbers.

I know there's a sub thing on Reddit for this sort of mystery but I'm not gonna join Reddit.

I'm not going to track down the person who installed it or email our Telecom folks or anything else that would let anyone outside my team know of my obsession.

Ideally I would like to see a picture or a diagram of this thing in a manual so I can send it to my team and be all "AH HA!" Unfortunately I will not be able to credit Metafilter because then I'd have to tell my coworkers about Metafilter and fuck no. Metafilter is my thing and they don't need to know about it.

Please help me figure this out, for my sanity. Thanks, Metafilter, you're a real pal.

posted by bondcliff to Grab Bag (45 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is there any chance that it's meant to go on the bottom of the legs of a table, maybe to avoid making a mark in the carpet?
posted by mccxxiii at 12:05 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


No. It's made out of flimsy plastic and could not hold much weight.

Also, there is only one in each room.
posted by bondcliff at 12:06 PM on July 11


Are the tables units that can be joined together to make a larger table?
posted by Emmy Rae at 12:09 PM on July 11


It is not part of the table. Of this I am 100% certain. The table was there long before this new telecom equipment showed up.
posted by bondcliff at 12:17 PM on July 11


The pads on both sides make me think it is 2 of something, not a single unit.
posted by maryr at 12:30 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


I know it has closed ends (unlike this, which is open) but is there any way it could be part of a Cable Management Kit?
posted by kate blank at 12:31 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Congratulations, this is now driving me batty too. I feel like I've seen variations of whatever this is, but nothing specific I can point to.

That said, could it be something like a pair of optional spacers for the wall-mount TV, that might snap into the back of it to keep the bottom portion from tilting into the wall?

I would only possibly suspect this if there are TVs in every conference room, though.

The other thing that comes to mind is that maybe it's from some kind of lightweight display stand; eg, if you inherited the building from another company, maybe they had plastic or foam cubes plastered with their logo sitting on these things on the conference tables...
posted by aecorwin at 12:33 PM on July 11


Cable management kit was my first guess, too, or part of some very cheap monitor stand/spacer like aecorwin suggested. It honestly just looks like an odd-shaped potting shell (generic electronics enclosure).
posted by Fish Sauce at 12:36 PM on July 11


These things 100% showed up when they installed all the new telecom / TV stuff in the rooms. Before then there were only white boards and markers, and these things were not there then. It's definitely some accessory that came with one of these components, like when you buy a land-line phone and you keep it on your desk but it comes with a thing to mount it on the wall but you don't need it but you can't possibly throw it away so you keep it in the drawer forever and ever and ever.

The suggestion of something for cable management would be good one, but these rooms are all death traps, with no cable management at all.
posted by bondcliff at 12:37 PM on July 11


The pads on both sides make me think it is 2 of something, not a single unit.

That's possible, but there are clips on each side, and corresponding holes next to each clip. The holes and clips are aligned so the clips on one side fit perfectly into the holes on the other. It seems too perfect for them to not go together. If each side was supposed to clip into something else (the back of the TV, for example), I don't think the holes would need to be there.
posted by bondcliff at 12:43 PM on July 11


The rubber foot pads make me feel like it's a thing that goes on the underneath of something to make a thing that might scratch a conference table NOT scratch a conference table. Can you show some close ups of the clips?
posted by jessamyn at 12:44 PM on July 11 [9 favorites]


I'm with maryr on those little pads being on both sides - suggests it's two pieces meant to be used separately.

Could it have just been part of the packaging, like to keep a screen from wobbling around in its shipping box?

Could they be shoes designed to go on the underside of eg a monitor or hutch for a desk, so it sits on the desk nicely? but your setup doesn't have that (monitor is wall-mounted for example) so they're unused pieces, but the installers just left them?
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:45 PM on July 11


About "they fit together too well" - if they're something like shoes that fit on the left and right sides of a thing, it would make sense they'd have the same kind of attachment points and be mirror images of each other.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:47 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


It is definitely something designed to protect a table, hence the little rubber feet. It is very flimsy and could not support anything heavier than a phone or router.

This is more thread-sitting than I usually do, but I do want to answer questions and/or nip things in the bud.
posted by bondcliff at 12:48 PM on July 11


Is it a spacer to clip onto the back of a wall mounted tv, to protect the wall?
posted by iamkimiam at 12:52 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Can we have more info about the "web-cam looking thing that looks like a big black tootsie pop on a base?"
How big is the base? Could a double-sided T with rubber pads fit under such a web-cam base?
posted by chococat at 12:52 PM on July 11


My hunch is that you have a support or lift for part of your video- or teleconferencing system. The rubber feet go on the desk, and another item (conference phone?) clips to the top so it's higher.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:53 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


One last thought - can you match the finish (sheen, texture, shade) on the plastic to any of the new system parts?
posted by maryr at 12:54 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Can we have more info about the "web-cam looking thing that looks like a big black tootsie pop on a base?

Link

The base of this camera is smaller than the mystery object so I don't think it's part of that.
posted by bondcliff at 12:56 PM on July 11


My hunch is that you have a support or lift for part of your video- or teleconferencing system. The rubber feet go on the desk, and another item (conference phone?) clips to the top so it's higher.

That is also my hunch.
posted by bondcliff at 12:56 PM on July 11


Google Image search for Sharp TV back suggests that many of them have L-shaped spaces for the connectors that might have some sort of optional cover for cable management? but that doesn't seem at all what this pair-of-joinable T-pieces are about.

GIS for Polycom desk stand shows a bunch of things which look nothing like it.

Reverse GIS just turns up a bunch of house numbers.

Except for the pair of upturned pieces, for which it is even more wrong.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:00 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


can you match the finish (sheen, texture, shade) on the plastic to any of the new system parts?

Literally every new component is made out of black ABS plastic, just like the Thing. The tops of everything are glossy. The back side of everything is flat like the Mystery Thing.
posted by bondcliff at 1:01 PM on July 11


Can you add some photos of the top/bottom of the "T" to your album? It appears that there are knockouts or something for wires adjacent to the clippy things, and they might help.
posted by misterbrandt at 1:04 PM on July 11


These things 100% showed up when they installed all the new telecom / TV stuff in the rooms.

Who is "they"? Definitely ask them!

I'm not going to track down the person who installed it

Sure you can, I promise you this is not weird.

And in fact not only is it not weird to ask, "you left parts behind without explanation after your tech install, what is this" is also perfectly reasonable to ask.

If it was a company that did the install, call them and ask the reception/office staff. Someone will find out.
posted by phunniemee at 1:05 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


You could check the Polycom devices for two slots as far apart as those tabs.
posted by advicepig at 1:07 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


It appears that there are knockouts or something for wires adjacent to the clippy things, and they might help.

The only holes in the Thing are the ones I mentioned, the ones next to the clips that perfectly fit the clips on the other half. These holes are about 1/8" wide, slightly wider than the ends of the clips. There are no other holes. Any other features on the inside of the T are strictly for support, or artifacts from the molding process.

When the two halves are put together, it is solid and featureless, other than the feet.

Sure you can, I promise you this is not weird.

No I can't. This is a *very* large institution and these things have been around long enough that I *know* any inquiry will be met with "huh?" and a dirty look. You just gotta trust me on this one, I know the environment all too well. Plus, it could be any one of like sixteen departments, depending on whether it's part of the phone (telecom), TV (media services), desktop (computer), etc etc etc. I'm not gonna go down that road.
posted by bondcliff at 1:10 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Throw it away, and someone will ask for it within ten days. You won't have it any more, but at least you'll know what it is was.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:20 PM on July 11 [49 favorites]


Is there any other equipment that maybe gets switched between rooms and can sit on the table, like a big projector or something?
posted by chococat at 1:20 PM on July 11


The clips that go together suggests to me it’s part of some system where you can chain together thingies and put these on the end.

Is there any chance that these are left over from the old equipment that was there before they installed the new telecom gear?
posted by aubilenon at 1:20 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


wenestvedt: "Throw it away, Hide it in your desk, and someone will ask for it within ten days. "
posted by Mitheral at 1:36 PM on July 11 [19 favorites]


Unless I'm misreading, it seems like the "wall-mounted Polycom router-looking thing" is the only piece of new electronic equipment that you haven't been able to get a model number for and hence haven't been able to get a manual for it. Maybe it's worth taking tracking down that piece to see if maybe these things are related to it?
posted by mhum at 4:54 PM on July 11


Based on unboxing videos for the model numbers you've given us, it doesn't appear to be a part that comes with either the 2W speakerphone or the Logitech camera system.

I thought it might be some sort of packaging, but that seems like overkill and, yeah, it's not in one of those boxes. Somebody built a plastic molding tool for that part, in that shape rather than a rectangle or triangle, and intentionally designed it so it could go on either orientation (top/bottom) and only have to tool up one part, and applied a finish to the visible surfaces. This is a functional part that is meant to stick around. This means something.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:47 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


"wall-mounted Polycom router-looking thing" is the only piece of new electronic equipment that you haven't been able to get a model number

That and the TV/monitor. Could the two T-pieces be feet for it that can snap onto its base but were unused because it was wall-mounted? But (a) they look too flimsy and ugly their non-conjoined configuration to be functional feet and (b) why would the installers leave them behind?

(The same thing also argues against it being packaging. The installers chose to leave it behind in every room rather than discarding it. It has some purpose.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:06 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


Anything that was assembled onsite? I've got a few "protect the edges of something while it's being transported" bits of plastic.
posted by kjs4 at 6:53 PM on July 11


maybe you can lean a laptop on them and protect the table? as in some sort of weird add on for protecting/supporting a laptop brought in to connect to the system?
posted by biggreenplant at 7:03 PM on July 11


Could they be "shoes" for a T-shaped metal foot on the underside of the TV or router? I know they're made of flimsy plastic, but if they fit snugly around a metal piece of the same shape, perhaps they would hold up. Because the weight would be distributed across the "sole", there wouldn't be any stress on the sides.

I.e. one of the wall-mountable objects has two bare metal feet which you either fit into the wall mount somehow, or cover up with the shoes if you don't want to mount it.
posted by equalpants at 9:22 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


It looks to me as if it might be a vibration isolation stand for whatever kind of sound pickup device is sitting on the table to use when your conference room is communicating with a similarly equipped conference room wherever else.

You know, to prevent things like a pencil dropped on your table from sounding like a sonic boom in the remote room.
posted by jamjam at 10:37 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


The clips that go together suggests to me it’s part of some system where you can chain together thingies and put these on the end.

I think this is on the right track. I'm envisioning a t-shaped sort of beam, where depending on the installation, one or both ends of the beam might abut something that could be easily marred - wall, floor, table, etc. I'm thinking that it is not part of the TV, but of the TV wall mounting system. Can you get a look at that?
posted by Rock Steady at 5:39 AM on July 12


Can you tell the specific model of the Sharp tv/monitor?
posted by jazon at 7:24 AM on July 12


I don't think I can. It's wall mounted and I can't get to the back. It may be a few days before I can get back in the conference room.
posted by bondcliff at 12:09 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


reddit.com/r/whatisthisthing is another good place to ask
posted by Jacqueline at 10:33 AM on July 13


Has there been any further progress is identify the thing? It keeps me up at night. All the wonder.
posted by countrymod at 7:37 AM on July 20


Sadly, no. We had a meeting in the room the other day and someone had placed the phone on top of it but I *know* that's not what it's for.

I'm on vacation for two weeks and I'm thinking of bringing it with me and returning it to the evil cave from where it obviously came.
posted by bondcliff at 8:01 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


I also think of this post when setting up meetings. I travel to conference rooms far and wide, yet, this thing I have never encountered. I will be so excited when Metafilter figures this out.
posted by this-apoptosis at 1:39 PM on July 28 [2 favorites]


Update on the thing: I still don't have a clue and, unfortunately, I can't get a good look at the other equipment to get model #s and stuff as it's all mounted to the wall.

One of my teammates, the only woman in the group, pointed out that only the men seem to care about it so we decided it's just a big "T" for Testosterone.

If I ever do figure it out I'll post a MeTa and we'll throw a big meetup so y'all can some see the Thing for yourselves and get a selfie with the Thing but until then I'm just going to let the mystery be.
posted by bondcliff at 12:34 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]


« Older using idevice for pos tethered to an iphone?   |   How to scrape posts and replies for a Facebook... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments