If you know me, you probably already know that I have what some might call a bit of a preoccupation with home automation. If you didn’t know that, now you do. I’m not sure if it was the 90’s Disney movie Smart House that did it (come on, we all watched it) or if it’s just a product of the facts that I’m a lazy person with severe gadget lust. Either way, the day can’t come soon enough when I can control the temperature, music, lights, etc. in my house simply by walking into a room and touching a button, or fiddling with my phone. I recently confirmed to myself that I have a problem when I read Daniel Suarez’ Daemon and its sequel Freedom (TM), which I recommend, which in all likelihood were supposed to make me at least a little fearful of the machines taking over and killing us all. I, however, just wanted the cool tech from Sobol’s house! Okay, maybe not the death traps, but definitely the other stuff. In short, I spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about creating and living in a house that would put The Jetsons’ to shame.
All this is to say that I think this giant multi-touch table is awesome.
First off, it’s so beautiful and sleek. All of the multi-touch tables I’ve seen so far have been chunky boxes that look like you’d have to hunch over them to use them. Not cool. This one is tall and svelte enough to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I’m assuming they’re talking about the gadget sexiness requirements, but I suppose you could probably fit some wheelchair armrests under there too. It’s got all the bells and whistles you’d expect in an iPad on steroids: Intel Core i5 CPU (upgradeable to an i7, and if you’re already prepared to drop $18k on this monster, what’s a couple hundred extra bucks?), 8 gigs of RAM, a 128GB SSD, a countably infinite contrast ratio (aren’t they all?), enough simultaneous touch points for you and your 15 closest friends to commune with the spirits on a giant virtual Ouija board planchette, and Windows 7. Maybe that last part doesn’t exactly fit with the iPad on steroids idea, but close enough. Oh, the home automation possibilities are endless!
In all honesty, I think you could build something similar for a considerably smaller investment. I should mention that there are plenty of homebrew touch tables scattered around the internet if you’re interested in other more affordable solutions, but if I were to try too recreate the MT-55, here’s how I’d do it:
- A 55″ flat screen TV costs roughly $2,000. Of course, the thinner/lighter you go, the higher the cost. I feel like this is a decent average.
- I found a company that makes touch panels of the right size, but there’s no pricing; let’s assume a 55″ touch panel goes for $4,000.
- Now all you need is a beastly computer, which we’ll say costs $2,000. No need to buy a case, since we’ll just stuff the components in the table. Gently.
- So now we’re at $8,000, less than half the cost of the MT-55. All we’re really missing now is the multitouch software, which you can get for $250 directly from gestureworks, and the table.
- Granted, the table’s pretty important. I’d probably want the table to be as versatile as possible; easily movable, with adjustable height and tilt for the screen, kinda like a drafting table. Also, I’d definitely get a nice-looking cover for the thing so I could actually USE it as a table when not showing off my giant tablet to everyone. Realistically I’d have to pay someone to build this table for me, since I’d rather not risk it collapsing on my feet.
- My ballpark estimate for the overall cost of building a touch table like this one seems to fall in the $9-10k range, just over half the cost of the MT-55. As long as you’re willing and able to put in the time actually building the thing, that is.
So that’s the kind of stuff I think about most of the time. Hopefully someday I’ll have the time to actually work on some of my ideas, but for now I’m content coming up with them and writing them down so I don’t forget them.
P.S. – This is my first blog post here, so I hope you like it! I’m going to post stuff that I think is cool. Hopefully you’ll think it’s cool as well.