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Multi-iPad table moves from concept to reality

Here's an item that would spice up any living room -- although it might be a budget-buster. The iPad table, a project of the Universal Mind interactive agency in Grand Rapids, links 15 iPads together to create one synchronized display.

The co-creator of the iPad table, Joe Johnston (who put it together with David Tucker), told TUAW that the system was conceived and built from scratch including the industrial design of the table and the custom app driving the connected iPads. A private wireless LAN hands off object information from iPad to iPad, allowing the moving "hypercards" to bounce and sail across the full extent of the iPad matrix. Double-tapping one of the cards expands it into a full webpage or other content.

It's easy to see how this sort of system could be popular and useful in a conference, retail or exhibit context. In fact, it strongly resembles another tabletop approach to touch computing that's had its branding co-opted to launch a different product: Microsoft Surface, Mark I. Before the Surface name was attached to the tablet convertible with the snappy keyboard, Microsoft was marketing Surface as a cocktail table-sized touchable computer intended for public, tourism and exhibit functions; that concept lives on as Samsung's SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense.

If you're interested in experimenting with multiple iOS displays linked together, Aachen University's Mobile Multi Display app is in the App Store now; for single-device inexpensive digital displays on the iPad, check out DynaSign or Digital Signage X. The utility of the iPad as a kiosk device took a big leap forward with iOS 6's Guided Access, which permits non-jailbroken devices to lock in a specific app and restrict sensitive screen areas while disabling the home & sleep buttons (making our "best of 2011" iPad accessory, the BubCap, a bit less necessary).

Professional multi-display solutions from companies like Videro (profiled by us here) and Sedna are capable of driving the iPad as well as the Mac, but haven't yet reached the point of multi-device iPad display configurations.

Thanks, Grant!

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