Hands On the Rosie Apple-Powered Multitouch Table (Verdict: Meh)

When we posted vague details of the Rosie Coffee Table, powered by "Apple," with a huge, beautiful multitouch touchscreen, I knew it would be high up on my list of things to check out. I saw it, and most of my short demo was buggy, even for a beta. The machines, powered by various Apple PCs (Macbook Pros, etc.) were housed in wooden cases that looked like lower-end furniture.


Probably fiberboard stuff, on par with Ikea, by my initial judgment. The UI itself is based around floating or aligned icons, with no text labels, for control of many things by RS-232 or IR, like many home theater gear and home automation equipment. You drag icons to the enter button, or click the enter button and click enter, to open em. I saw demos of a touchscreen satellite TV controller, with a favorites mode that showed off TV station icons and a easy channel scroll bar on the bottom. The software has iTunes interfaces that can turn album art into these floating icons, too.

The multitouch is pretty shoddy, and the refresh rate is not too good on the screen. Multitouch is defined here as being able to have things like your hand on the screen while still being able to select other items. I saw one screen that was very buggy. The other Rosie was not so bad, but not great either.

I think I saw a picture application, as well. But I also saw icons for a Gameboy Micro and YouTube. Huh? Gameboy? Making floating icons is one thing, making applications for a touchscreen UI is another—who knows if these are currently functional. I attempted to push for more info, but the man cut off to talk to someone else. We'll report again when Savant has more info or pushes past beta, but for now, it seems like Wonky custom installer gear. [Rosie on Giz]

Osterville, MA. September, 2007— Savant Systems LLC, with a visionary approach to home automation that emphasizes reliability and a maintenance-friendly open platform, has announced the first Apple®- based coffee table surface product. The ROSIE Coffee Table Touchpanel Controller supports all the capabilities of the Savant suite of ROSIE In-wall touch panels plus new and exciting interactive multimedia capabilities, such as integration and interaction with iTunes® multimedia content, digital cameras, IP network cameras, business card readers, and many additional high-tech devices. Victor Saverino, director of product management at Savant said, "The ROSIE Coffee Table brings the converged functionality of a touch panel to an interactive surface technology that is practical on the one hand, entertaining and exciting to use on the other. The ROSIE Coffee Table is truly the evolution of interactive technology—it can seamlessly download photos from digital cameras, play music, movies, and TV shows as well as accomplish complete home control all fromwithin one elegant forty-inch interface." Savant plans to offer the ROSIE Coffee Table in a number of different furniture styles ranging from contemporary to traditional.


I loved the part where he described the pseudo multi-touch technology. It essentially boiled down to a very enthusiastic explanation of an inferior technology. Great, it can avoid accidental presses, but as a UI it looks horrible. Just because they're using OS X doesn't mean they can't make a crappy product.

A lot of time and effort really needs to be put into creating these devices. Why do you need to drag things to an 'Enter key'? Think about the time it takes to do so, versus double-tap. How do you resize things on the screen? Can you rotate? Can it easily interface with new devices like M$'s surface? Most importantly, does having random floating shit on the screen actually provide any functionality.