Multi-Touch Coffee Table Concept Is One Sweet Universal Remote

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Don’t put your feet on this table—really. This multi-touch surface is part of a living room control system that could cost a cool $15,000 when it’s finally ready for public consumption. Right now, though, it’s just the conceptual brainchild of a team at the Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences’ Media Interaction Lab. The CRISTAL system, simply put, turns a coffee table into a universal remote for your home theater, lights, digital photo library, and even vacuum.

CRISTAL (short for “control of remotely interfaced systems using touch-based actions in living spaces”) has two main hardware components: a suspended camera that takes an overhead image of the room, and a multi-touch coffee table. The live image of the room then appears on the table. From there, users can control devices in the image by simply tapping them.

The interface itself will probably remind you of the Microsoft Surface tabletop computer–albeit on a more trimmed-down scale. Dimming the lights, for example, is accomplished with a quick finger slide, as is TV volume. What’s really crafty, though, is CRISTAL’s media handling: You can browse digital movies on networked storage, watch previews right on the table surface, and simply drag the film onto the image of the TV to start playback. The same interface also goes digital photos, but those you can view on either the TV or a digital photo frame.

And there’s a vacuum trick that’s pretty cool, too. Check it out in this video demo:

[via Wired]