Making Furniture Interactive

September 4, 2007

Tables and the Future

Filed under: Exercise 1: What Is?,Matt Thompson — Mattt @ 4:52 am

One aspect of technology that I really appreciate is its role and perception in everday life; it is the very essence that stokes technophobic generational gaps and inspires the musings of sci-fi. Adults name-dropping Google or Wikipedia without a second thought belies the deep implications of a global index of information. The ubiquity of mobile devices today has Star Trek technology pale in comparison. It’s crazy.

The first two pieces I have below are different concepts for an integrated role of computers as omnifunctional domestic devices: an older chestnut by Sony, and the newest tech from Redmond–Surface.

Sony DATA Tiles

Microsoft Surface

What I love about these two examples is the intersection of unabashed idealism and seeming impracticality of these technologies. All at once, one can think about how cool it would be to have an interface that can interact with virtually anything by gestural input, while at the same time one questions the unnecessary paradigm shift in computing that this would necessitate (A funny parody of Surface to this effect can be found at

It’s gotten to the point where computers–what once were revered religiously by early practitioners–have turned into mere appliances for solitaire and pornography for many. On the other hand, predictions of wall-sized televisions, mobile communication devices, and robots from their retro futuristic roots have come true, albeit in a way that only peripherally resembles those first imaginings.

Sony DATA Tiles and Microsoft Surface both represent recent examples of the classic spirit and ideological tensions inherent to futurism. Although its skeptical that the future will be large interactive tables, ideas like these seed assorted ideas and notions that develop into the realities of the future.


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