While this week the web is full of talk about Microsoft's Surface tablet, it's less well known that that Microsoft originally used the name "Surface" for a prototype multitouch table. Commonly used in public settings such as museums, these tables have been brought to market in recent years by developers like New Mexico-based Ideum, which is now releasing its fourth-generation multitouch table.
Ideum's two new offerings - the Pro and the Platform - are are both 55-inch LED LCD multitouch displays running Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit Professional. The tables support up to 40 simultaneous touch points and feature a 30,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio.
The tables are also slimmer at two-inches (50 mm) in depth. A comparable product, the Samsung SUR40 Experience, is four-inches (103 mm) deep.
Connectivity is handled via Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. New to the fourth-generation models is RFID, which gives administrators control to change the display applications, and also to lock the unit so only the intended display or program is accessible.
The aircraft-grade aluminum housing is designed with lockable access ports, which further boosts security, and the display itself is also quite sturdy. Ideum uses a micro-etched, low-friction surface made from a sheet of hardened, ultra-clear, low-iron tempered glass. The company also offers the option of Sevasa HapticGlas which provides tactile feedback, reduces fingerprints and increases the scratch resistance of the display.
A few features differentiate the two models. The Pro model has a 3.4 GHz Quad Core i7 2600. It has 8GB DDR-1066 RAM, dual 500 GB SATA II hard disk drives, and runs an NVIDIA Quadro 600 1GB graphics card. The Pro also comes with an expandable HP workstation with HP's three-year onsite warranty and packs a built-in 75 watt amplifier with Yamaha speakers. The Platform model has a 2.2 GHz Hyper-Threaded Dual Core i7 chip from Intel. It has 8GB DDR3-1066 RAM, and dual 256 GB solid-state SSD drives and an NVIDIA GX460 graphics card.
Custom programming and apps are created using the GestureWorks SDK, an authoring package that includes Gesture ML - a markup language for multitouch screens. The systems also come with a number of pre-built Open Exhibits multitouch components that help for quick programming of exhibits and displays.
The video below demonstrates applications on the Pro and Platform multitouch tables.