Philips Entertaible: terrible name, way cool product

I haven’t even gotten to the Consumer Electronics show yet this week but already I’m seeing some very cool stuff being introduced. In the mix of online music stores, new headphones, GPS systems, yet more MP3 players and more, there’s a very weird and incredibly cool new device that Philips Electronics is introducing called the Entertaible.
How on earth they came up with this name is baffling to me – it’s terrible – but they’ve been working on this for a while at the Philips research labs in Denmark. In fact, they have a Web site for the Entertaible where you can learn more, but let me quote from their press release instead…

“The Entertaible concept is a tabletop gaming platform that marries traditional multi-player board and computer games in a uniquely simple and intuitive way. Entertaible comprises a 30-inch horizontal LCD, sophisticated touch screen-based multi-object position detection, and all supporting control electronics.”
“It allows the players to engage in a new class of electronic games which combines the features of computer gaming, such as dynamic playing fields and gaming levels, with the social interaction and tangible playing pieces, such as pawns and dies, of traditional board games.”
This just brings me right back to my years working at HP Labs, where we too built products years (if not decades) ahead of their time.
Let me show you a picture so you can see why this Entertaible is so darn cool:

Philips Entertaible

More from Philips:
“Philips aims to encourage partnerships and collaboration with games vendors that plan to add new capabilities to their games. Entertaible provides the ideal electronic platform for these companies. �Entertaible offers the means to reinvigorate established board game classics,� comments Gerard Hollemans of Philips Research in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, who leads the research team that developed Entertaible. �However, in the longer term, Entertaible could be used to invent brand new games offering unprecedented levels of user interaction � games that would never become predictable or ever quite �feel� the same twice, however often you played them.�
Maybe it’s just me, but this is one of the first truly cool uses of touchscreens that I’ve seen in a very long time. They’re probably incredibly expensive as they’re more or less still prototypes, but… I want one!
Cnogratulations, Philips, on introducing such a true innovation in a show awash in me-too products and tiny, incremental improvements in products.

4 comments on “Philips Entertaible: terrible name, way cool product

  1. That is cool. One thing though, it will be a long time before it’s cheap enough for the home market. Dell is only just now rolling out a 30′ screen, it will well over $1k… and those guys do some VOLUME!
    Still, wow.

  2. This would be a powerful enabler for anyone who is put off from board games by the storage space and setup & put away time required. A well written interactive tutorial for each game could also bring into the fold many new boardgamers who might not like to read rules booklets.
    I wonder, though, how well it stands up to a variety of lighting conditions. How tough is the surface and would it be inexpensive to replace? One of the photos that Philips provides, actually points out a potentially weak aspect of the system. A 2-d image can be given a 3-d perspective look, but this perspective image is not intended to be viewed at all angles, and it looks a bit awkward when viewed “upside down.” Where is holography when you need it…?
    I also wonder what the touch input resolution is. Simultaneous input is nice, but what about my favorite game, Twixt? That uses a 24×24 grid, and in order to implement the official ruleset, you would probably need to resolve a 47×47 grid. Ah well, Hasbro probably would never allow Twixt anyway…

  3. This table seems like an innovative idea. Help programs could be provided with games and such, whick I would appreciate. However, I want to know if it will support games like Risk, and Dungeons and Dragons. Due to a variety in environments, I think it would be nice to swich the visuals of the game that someone is playing. Don’t like the default background on your monopoly game? Boom, here’s the one that came with the Limited Edition Star Wars Monopoly! Everything now-a-days is about personalization.

  4. A 2-d image can be given a 3-d perspective look, but this perspective image is not intended to be viewed at all angles, and it looks a bit awkward when viewed “upside down.” Where is holography when you need it…?

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