As we were enjoying the ultra-thin 38mm TVs on Hitachi's stand at CES we noticed something else, tucked away in the corner. From the outside it looked like any old booth, but when we entered, we found something that kept us amused for ages. Basically, there was a projector, and an interactive, touch-sensitive surface. Using both, you can interact with a computer in a fascinating new way.
The StarBoard system is really two technologies in one. Firstly, it features Hitachi's short-throw LCD projector. This is important, because the projector sits mere inches from the interactive surface. This means you get a huge -- 50-inch, in fact -- bright screen, which doesn't get blocked out by your head as you lean over the table. The image it projects is incredibly high-quality too, and there was no noticeable distortion.
The surface itself is simply a rigid board. At the top there are two cameras that track the movement of your hands. These work independently of each other, so the device is essentially multi-touch. What amazed us is how easy to use the whole system was. It took no real instruction to get us playing with it. Using Google Earth with it was a treat. There was also a photo app, which was clearly just there to illustrate the multi-touch capabilities of the system. But it allowed the resizing, rotation and moving of photos around the surface. Colour us impressed. -Ian Morris