Borrowing from Microsoft's Surface concept, Canadian-based SMART Technologies has designed a multi-touch table designed specifically for the preschool to sixth grade primary educational sector. The SMART Table features a multi-touch-enabled, tabletop 27-inch screen, with an internal projection system and integrated PC. The idea behind the SMART Table is that it gets kids to collaborate with each other while solving problems and playing educational games with an interactive system.
"The SMART Table provides a learner-centric experience for small groups that allows students to select or move objects, draw or write on the screen simultaneously, and work together to find answers to preset questions."
The SMART Table can be used in conjunction with SMART Technologies' SMART Board interactive whiteboard, where teachers can introduce a lesson on the whiteboard and then let the kids perform the relevant tasks on the SMART Table in groups. In addition to the "standard set of interactive leaning applications, interactive lesson activities and educations games," the SMART Table also comes with the SMART Notebook software, with which teachers can create customized lessons. The SMART Notebook software runs on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. Once the custom lesson is created, it can be copied to the SMART Table via a USB flash drive. Audio and embedded video can be integrated into lessons and activities (the SMART Table includes a pair of stereo speakers). SMART Technologies also claims that third-party developers are actively creating additional content for the SMART Table platform.
The SMART Table "accepts simultaneous input from an unlimited number of finger or pens... from unlimited users." The table supports gesture recognition with "object scaling (pinching the sides of an object to control the size) and object rotation (putting two or more fingers on an object to rotate it)."
SMART Table Mapping Application Click for full view Copyright 2001–2008 SMART Technologies ULC. All rights reserved
While the SMART Table is similar in concept to Microsoft's Surface technology, it is not based on it--although it does currently use Windows Vista as its underlying OS. The SMART Table uses SMART Technologies' own DViT (Digital Vision Touch) technology in concert with an upward-facing camera. The current iteration of the SMART Table uses an Intel processor and supports up 16.8 million colors on the table-based display. Even though the SMART Table's engine is essentially a PC running Windows, SMART Technologies downplays this aspect. The SMART Table's GUI is a layer that always resides on top of Windows from the very moment the system boots into the OS. In fact, it's possible that future iterations of the SMART Table could be built on top of entirely different platforms. A SMART Technologies representative told us that they want the SMART Table to be considered OS agnostic--everyone would have the same SMART Table experience regardless of the underlying hardware and OS. The SMART Table should be available sometime in the Spring of 2009 and is expected to sell for around $8,000 in North America to educational institutions.