Computers started out as discrete objects to be placed on top of furniture — a PC on the desk, a laptop around the dining table. An iPad on the kitchen counter. However, computing devices’ destiny is to be constructed to our furniture. The desk will become a PC. The dining room table will probably be usable just like a laptop. And the kitchen counter will work a lot as an iPad.
In computer science, the idea of computers built into what’s known as ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing, ambient intelligence or, my favorite label: everyware.
The transition to smart furniture will also involve a reconsideration of this hierarchy of furniture. For example, the tables throughout your house exist in a functional ranking system. Today the king of tables, of course, is your dining area table. You spend more money on it than other tables, such as bedroom nightstands, the coffee table, the terrace table, the workbench in the garage, the desk in your house office and so on. Its quality, look and placement are far more significant than that of lesser tables.
When the dust settles on the transition to intelligent furniture, however, it is likely that the lowly coffee table will usurp the crown and be the very important (and costly) table in your property. The main reason is that the current place and intent of a coffee table as a table are peripheral to what is significant about your family’s lifestyle. Nevertheless, the smart coffee table of this future might be the fundamental computing device inside your property.
SUR40 Table With Microsoft PixelSense
The ultimate coffee table book is itself a coffee table. Have you ever thought about why coffee table books exist? It’s a pretty strange literary genre, if you think about it. It’s the only type of printed material that is specially designed to sit down on a specific article of furniture.
Wikipedia has a wonderful entry to the coffee table: “A coffee table book is a hardcover book that’s intended to sit on a coffee table or similar surface within a region where guests sit and are entertained, thus inspirational conversation or relieving boredom. They tend to be oversized and of heavy structure, because there isn’t any pressing need for portability”
In the relentless drive to turn physiological things to virtual reality, the purpose served by the coffee table publication will soon be served by the coffee table itself, and for exactly the very same reasons. The coffee table as a computer will allow you to entertain guests and provoke conversation. It is going to also control other appliances that are smart in the house, like the TV.
The best example of this technology is that a product from Samsung called the SUR40 using Microsoft PixelSense. Here is a wonderful movie that shows off some of the wonderful capabilities of PixelSense. Presently, the SUR40 isn’t offered to customers; it is sold largely to pubs, casinos and retail shops.
Microsoft has made no secret of its intent to make PixelSense tables offered for customers. It’s probably just waiting for the costs of electronic elements to come down far enough so the tables can sell for under $3,000 or so.
Mozayo M42-Pro Table – $10,000
The coffee table as PC. A company named Mozayo sells a coffee table known as the M42-Pro. It’s basically a high-end Microsoft Windows PC using a 42-inch high-definition display as the table surface. Additionally, it has a signature interface layer, which allows you to use it with no mouse or keyboard.
The Mozayo sits in a wood-grain, dark-stained coffee table. In addition to the signature interface, it comes with a few custom applications. Beyond those customizations, nevertheless, it functions very similar to today’s PCs, with menus, desktop applications, icons and of the rest.
The smart coffee table of the future will probably be fundamental. The Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense does many of the items that tomorrow’s interactive coffee tables will do, but it is not ready for the consumer market. The Mozayo M42-Pro is ready for the consumer market, but it can’t actually do the things which will make future interactive coffee tables compelling.
The next generation of smart coffee tables will seem as a combination of both. (This photo shows one custom variant of this Samsung SUR40, illustrating how people will be drawn to smart coffee tables as a fundamental sources of amusement and data.)
Imagine a coffee table with a sleek, all-glass surface. When you touch base with your hands, it is going to come alive. Gestures like swiping will bring up various options. Even though the surface of the table is lit, various objects, like telephones, will be recognized from the table, enabling neat tricks. For example, by placing a wise phone on the table, it will know who you’re will allow you to selectively spill out electronic pictures and videos on the table.
Board games will probably be replaced by smart board bits. Presenting future Monopoly objects (the little puppy, the best hat etc.), the table will turn into an interactive Monopoly board. All the Community Chest cards, money and the remainder is going to be served upon the surface of the coffee table.
Draw the letter “K” (for “computer keyboard”) along with your finger, and a computer keyboard using document will appear on the monitor. After writing something, you’ll have the ability to send it via email, post it on Facebook or perform any number of other items with it. Another gesture will bring a TV remote control function or controls for a variety of lighting and other items in the house.
In short, the interactive coffee table of the future is going to do just about whatever you want it to. And it’ll cost a lot less than today’s $10,000-plus tables.
In the end, the reason coffee tables will reign supreme is that you are going to have a large, flat surface in the center of your living room surrounded by seats where people will devote a lot of time anyhow. It’s the perfect situation for a hugely powerful personal computer using a big, beautiful touch screen that could conjure up anything you and your family want.
Ubiquitous computing is coming. You will have small computers in many of your appliances and furniture pieces, and a big computer with a huge screen right there in your living area. Tomorrow’s smart coffee table is going to do anything. You will even have the ability to place your coffee cup on it. (Please use a coaster!)
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