Remember the good old days when the whole family would gather for a lazy Sunday brunch and haggle over their favorite sections of The New York Times? Well with paper going the way of the dodo, the folks at the NYT‘s R&D lab have built the next generation of new media reader for you and your closest kin. Meet what we’re calling the Times Tablet Table, a giant touchscreen that lets the whole clan read and share right from their furniture.
Matt Boggie, media & technology strategist for R&D, showed off the Times Table to Nieman Lab’s Megan Garber. While the table looks like a giant tablet to Betabeat, and tablets are for now synonymous with iPads in our minds, and the markets, the Times Tablet Table is actually based on Microsoft’s Surface Technology.
Ms. Garber offers a slightly disturbing vision of how the table technology might lead to a world of omnipresent news and information:
And news itself, in the same way, collapses into the broader universe of information. We’re used to thinking of “the news” as its own category, as something to be consumed primarily during commutes or during post-work relaxation in the evening. But news is becoming more pervasive (there’s evidence that many people, at the moment, consume the bulk of their news during the day, integrated into their work), and the R&D platforms reflect its ubiquity. The prototypes on display at the R&D Lab consider how news can be used, in particular, in the home, woven into the intimate contexts of the morning coffee, the family dinner, the daily getting-ready routine. They explore what it means to brush your teeth with the Times.
That last part is in reference to a “magic mirror” which Garber promises video of tomorrow.
While all of this is certainly amazing to look at, and seems fun to play with, it’s not clear how it will translate to the real world. Is the Times planning to start producing its own hi-tech housewares? Perhaps the NYT is simply preparing for the inevitable future in which all of our furniture is designed by Apple?