Ooo lol. We've got loads of these tables in the staff room...
steal one for us, its getting cheaper to make this prototype!
You would need something a bit more solid for a proper table - MDF for the top, probably, with strips of pine or similar making up the legs, assuming you're planning to paint the whole thing a uniform colour to hide the raw materials. It probably wouldn't cost much more than £30 per table for materials, although you would need some decent tools to finish the job properly - a circular saw or angle grinder to cut a hole in the centre of the table top, and a router to make a nice neat recess (a rabbet) to slot the screen in properly.
Computer hardware wouldn't be a problem - one of those dead small Acers fitted on the back of the LCD screen should work nicely. I have one that's not getting much use at the moment, you could maybe test with that. The main problems I can think of:
- LCD screens aren't great for putting cups of coffee on. You'd need a chunk of perspex or similar screwed on top of the table. This will rather spoil the touch-sensativity part of the LCD, though.
- What software, exaclty, are you planning to run on this device, and what operating system? Is Windows 7 is multi-touch capable? Is there a developers kit / API available for free to develope Windows multi-touch applications with? Or is there a matching multi-touch version of Linux?
- If the touch-screen bit doesn't work behind a chunk of perspex, how do you plan to make the screen touch-sensative, or multi-touch capable?
Has nobody linked to this yet?
Build Your Own Multitouch Surface Computer
I just think that by the time you've spent £30 making a £4.99 table strong enough you're a fool and you have egg on your face :D
I for one would actually quite like to see a DIY touch top interactive tablely thing, and I'm volunteering garage space to build it in, and some cash towards the project if we're actually serious about giving this a go. Problem is, if we build one, who would keep the finished product, or would we donate it to Dos_box for edugeek use :D
EDIT: just checked that link abullett, that's thing's amazing, I want to build one now!
my wife used to work in Ikea :getmecoat:
Can i just blindly post a link here without reading through the entire thread?
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s5EvhHy7eQ&feature=player_embedded"]YouTube- Low-Cost Multi-touch Whiteboard using the Wiimote[/ame]
Johnny Chung Lee - Projects - Wii
Maybe some kind of top projection table, using a pico projector? Could work with a white LACK table?!
Top-projection would involve having a projector pointing at just the right place where your table is, and of course leaves a shadow... Unless, of course, you combine this with some of the other stuff on Johnny Chung Lee's website - the auto-calibration system made from a couple of bits of glass fibre and twin-projector projection. In fact, you could replace the lights for a room with LED projectors - maybe four or six sets of twinned projectors, focussed to project on table surfaces. Have the tables themselves auto-calibrate to be interactive surfaces when placed under a projector. You would probably be best having pupils interact with infra-red pens, as with that whiteboard design - seems about the cheapest option and your software only has to deal with a certain number of inputs instead of the whole multi-touch deal.
Unless, of course... we could manage this now, with screens projected from the ceiling down on to white-surfaced tables. This would have the advantages over laptops of keeping the expensive equipment out of student's hands, power and network connections would be easy to provide, it'd be cheaper overall per class (if six people could use a screen at once) and it would be a collaborative workspace. Laptops can potentially be shared over several classrooms (although this doesn't actually work well in practice) and give each individual pupil their own workspace, which might be what is wanted (a 1280 X 800 projector would provide an individual pupil with an area of 426 x 400 pixels, which is small but comparable to a smartphone or netbook).
You would have to figure out how, exactly, each pupil would interact with the display. One idea is infra-red emitting pens, like with that Wiimote above, but with each pen flashing in a particular pattern to indicate which number it is (not sure how well that would actually work). Maybe you could modify standard USB mice to work 6 at a time (although how would you power them - battery, or lose the advantage of needing no power cables?), or maybe create a bluetooth capable device of some kind?
You could probably even do 3D for relatively little extra - how much more are 3D-capable projectors?
Watch this space, as if we do it I'll start a thread and document it's progress.
Hang on, though... Is maybe the wall the best place to project a screen? How about if you got a "gaming" PC capable of supporting 4 screens, with a decent amount of RAM and a decent processor, and installed Linux on it along with a modified window manager that could support multiple mouse/keyboard input (see MPX: The Multi-Pointer X Server). Then have Windows Server running as a VM on the same machine to provide Terminal Services, then plug in 4 bluetooth keyboards and mice and away you go - each user (or, better, group of users) can open applications (logged in properly as themselves) but also slide open windows between displays. A four-screen setup would cost around £5,000.
I'd actually be very much up for doing some proof of concepts on some of this stuff, as there's some pretty interesting ideas there, and I think there's enough of the necessary componants in existance to build a working device along the lines of some of your thoughts.