Great minds think alike. So too, apparently, do hardware makers designing their own workspaces of the future.
Following Hewlett-Packard's announcement of the Sprout PC last week, Dell showed off its own double-touchscreen PC, which it merely called the Dell "smart desk." Like the Sprout, the smart desk concept uses a large LCD monitor--presumably the Dell UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K monitor it launched in September--paired with a touchscreen display perched on the desk in front of it.
So far, there's no indication that Dell plans to commericialize the concept, let alone when it could do so. But it does appear to be more than just art.
Unfortunately, Dell's description of the smart desk itself is bogged down in the wonder of it all.
Placed in a natural, horizontal location that is more comfortable for touch interaction, the Dell smart desk provides a work surface that aligns closely with the productivity requirements of professional software applications. Paired with a vertical display and powered by plug-ins to key ISV applications, it instinctually separates seeing from doing; primary work activities are close to the user while secondary ones are further away, accessible through intuitive screen swipes. Ten-plus finger touch functions as well as high-performance pen functions and gestures, paired with a new generation of tools naturally located on a horizontal surface, will allow users to easily manipulate digital content without having to step away from the task at hand. This digital desktop allows for multiple desks to be clustered around specific projects, notes that can be searched and shared, and better organization with scaling and stacking of growing content. In fact, any smart desk workspace will allow users to pick up their work session wherever they left it--regardless of location. This means that the creative cycle will never miss a beat.
Whew. Translated, it appears that the Dell smart desk uses touchscreens in both the vertical and tabletop LCDs to allow users to manipulate objects by voice and by stylus--basically, treating the tabletop LCD as a tablet of sorts. It also appears that the workspace is synced to the cloud, and that users can push their flat tabletop LCDs together to create an ad-hoc network of sorts for collaboration.
So far, that's about all we know. Hopefully Dell will publish more information about the smart desk concept, including price and availability.
What this means: While there's no indication that traditional PC buyers are clamoring for desktops a la the Sprout PC and this smart desk concept, it's fair to say that one of the few desktop stalwarts are creatives, who prefer large screens and copious amounts of processor power for CAD work, video editing, and the like. Sprout and Dell's concept may be just a recognition of sorts that the digital workstation is evolving into a more specialized tool.