There's a good chance you're reading this blog post as you sit at an average wooden or metal computer desk, complete with four legs and a computer monitor with keyboard and mouse on top. But what if your desk was the computer monitor, only a lot larger and cooler?
Thanks to researchers from Aachen University's Media Computing Group, office drones of the near future may do their work from a work station that is one huge multi-touch display.
The team developed a 40 x 40 inch acrylic touch surface that curves upward in the middle to let workers manipulate objects on the horizontal and vertical surfaces.
Appropriately called the Bend Desk, the acrylic board is surrounded by 312 LEDs that send infrared light to the surface.
Three cameras, each running at 60 frames per second at a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels, track the entire 1600-square-inch surface. Two projectors beam the user interface onto the rear of the acrylic board. See a diagram above, courtesy of Gizmag.
Watching a video of the Bend Desk in action will make anyone who has spent too much time clutching a keyboard mouse or toggling with a laptop's track pad a little jealous.
Aachen University's Media Computing Group had 18 volunteers test out the Bend Desk to see how regular computer users would interact with the machine. Researchers found that testers treated the horizontal and vertical surfaces as two separate screens, and usually did not use the curve connecting the two. That could be because some users said moving items along the curve dragged a bit, but also might be due to the fact that they had never seen anything like it.
The Bend Desk works pretty well, but researchers plan to continue experiments with the curve, and to find more practical uses for their creation.