This interactive LED coffee table looks fun! And it got me thinking about computer hardware.

There seems to be a recent increase in interesting computing-related hardware: tablet PCs, multitouch screens on phones, and Microsoft’s concept tabletop "Surface" PC.

We human creatures like to interact with our surroundings. We want to affect change, to make our mark; in large (cities) and small (graffiti) ways. Touch technology looks like making technology interesting again to interact with.

Let’s face it; input devices have been pretty limited and boring to date. We have mainly had buttons, rolling wheels, and rolling balls (using a LED or laser instead of an actual ball is still promulgating this rolling ball concept). Laptops have more recently brought us touchpads (slide/stroke) and trackpoints (finger-push/pull). Pen-based devices like graphics tablets and tablet PCs are still not widely used.

With cameras, microphones, fingerprint readers and accelerometers making their way into more computers, it is only a matter of time before we see new fun ways of using these hardware bits…


This Scope breath testing microsite uses the built-in microphone on many PCs in a fun and different way.


Spore is a game from EA that uses the accelerometer in the iPhone much like a Wii controller.


If you own a recent Thinkpad laptop, you can download games that use its built-in accelerometer as the interaction device.


Synaptics, the manufacturer of TouchPads installed on many laptops, offers a set of fun utilities that turn your TouchPad into an electric drum amongst other things.


Children playing with a projected display / movement sensor installation in a Singaporean shopping centre (2008).


An exhibit in the London Design Museum (2005) with projected fallen leaves which swirled realistically as you moved through them.