Thursday, October 18, 2007


I'm convinced that multitouch interfaces are going to become more and more prevelant, and show up on LCDs you can get with your VISTA or Leopard operating system PC. Both Microsoft and Apple are playing with the technology as is evident in Apple's iPod Touch and Microsoft's Surface coffee table.

There is obviously a conflict of scale between these two devices. The Surface has to be one of the ugliest coffee tables I've seen in a long time. The iTouch is small enough that I need reading glasses to see it. Yet I would love to have a coffee table sized iTouch as the main interface to my media in my home theater room(s). It is a self-contained computer that using wireless can access all the media I have stored on my local network. It is self powered with a rechargeable battery.

Any PC related electronics one adds to a coffee table imediately requires cables across or through the floor. Imagine a 32" or 40" interactive multitouch display as your coffee table that didn't have a single cable attached to anything. Yes, I'll allow periodic connection to a power outlet for recharging. Perhaps an OLED screen for low power consumption. Built-in wireless networking, and wireless network control of the media center PC actually displaying movies and playing surround sound through my A/V receiver.

I'm a furniture designer so I'm sure I could come up with a nice frame and base, and a strategy for protecting the surface when it wasn't being used. Coffee tables get used for far more that media interaction, ya know.

The multitouch interface would be great for multiperson game play on the same surface. With different points of view, each person sitting around the table could grab and rotate any open window to orient it to their position. Pass photos around. Actually slide them across the surface. Imagine a Pool game taking up the whole top, with pool table physics perfectly calculated. Put some spin on the cue ball based on how you touch it. Play a pinball game, and tilt the table a little (and the related physics of the balls) by touching one or more corners of the table. Flipper buttons would be spots on the screen you could position wherever they were most comfortable to use.

More on Multitouch later. I'd like to point out that one day after my first post Steve Jobs announced he would open up the iPhone and iTouch to third party apps. Steve, if you're reading this, contact me. I'll help you make a coffee table version of the iTouch.

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