The Platform 46 Multitouch Coffee Table is nice, but it's not ready for consumers.
The table uses a brand-new, high-performance 3M screen, also unveiled this week, that can handle not just 10 simultaneous fingers on the screen, but 60!
The screen itself is just a 1080p display, lower than the resolution of the better smartphones, which keeps performance high and costs down. It runs Windows 8 and works like a touch tablet.
Beyond the form factor, 3M touch screen and special graphics card, the Platform 46 is a pretty standard PC. It's powered by an Intel i7 3.1GHz processor with 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive and a dedicated GPU.
Microsoft's consumer table could be at least as awesome as the Platform 46, but perform a special feat of magic: Microsoft could make all its hardware, and the mobile hardware made by its Windows and Windows Phone partners, to automatically and instantly interact with the table.
For example, placing a Windows phone on the table could automatically re-arrange the content displayed so that nothing is under the phone. And the contents of that phone — pictures, documents and so on — could "spill out" onto the table, where the user could interact with them before pouring the contents back into the phone with a simple gesture across the table surface.
The same magic could be performed by Windows RT tablets.
In other words, the table would be a giant-screen station for Microsoft-powered mobile devices.
It's worth noting that Microsoft PixelSense tablets have been offering this phone-interactive feature for five years.
And — why not? — build wireless charging into the table so those gadgets could be charged without being plugged in.
A Microsoft consumer table would let people pour their bills out onto the table and see 12 of them at once, edit their photos on a giant screen, have multiple TV stations going on the surface of the table, let families play mult-user games like air hockey, Monopoly and others and read full-size newspapers in the morning with breakfast.
Who wouldn't want this?
Microsoft could build killer voice command and dictation into the table and new Kinect in-the-air gestures for controlling everything that happens on the table — and on the phones and tablets sitting on the table.
But wait, you might say, that would be too expensive. The market isn't ready. Well, that's all true. And it's probably why Microsoft isn't seriously planning such a launch.
But Microsoft needs to stop thinking like a commodity software company and start thinking like a luxury car brand if it wants to boost its reputation in the consumer electronics world.
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