Videogames. Board games. Tables. Just three of our favourite things. But if only there was a way to combine them all into the same object...
But wait! NOW THERE IS, thanks to the crazy tech wizards at Philips. Ladies and gentlemen, meet... The "Entertaible."
As you can see in the pics, the Entertaible features a 30-inch horizontal LCD touch-screen which has been designed for use in all lighting conditions. "Multi-object position detection" means it can tell where real life playing pieces such as pawns and dice are, and the electronic nature of the whole thing makes for "dynamic playing fields and gaming levels", apparently.
At the moment the Entertaible is still in the prototype stage, and Philips will be showing it off at the Consumer Electronics Show tomorrow. They're initially aiming the product at bars, casinos and the like, but if it takes off a home version will follow.
According to a statement issued by Philips, "Entertaible owes its name to the social entertainment experience it encourages and the tabletop form factor it is built on," in case you hadn't worked that out.
"Its capabilities could breathe new interactive life into conventional multi-player board and electronic games. This may include, for example, using a portion of the touch screen to allow private tactical information to be shown to specific players only."
Other advantages could involve on-screen explanations of the rules as you play through a game, the ability to save your progress mid-play and the option to store loads of board games without needing loads of space for all the pesky boxes. Plus you might be able to hook the thing up to the Internet and download trials of new games some day.
The Entertaible is the brainchild of a Philips research team located in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The team is led by scientist Gerard Hollemans, who probably has crazy white hair and is never more than a foot away from a mysterious glass container with all dry ice coming out of it.
"Entertaible offers the means to reinvigorate established board game classics," Hollemans said, probably in a really overexcited fashion using lots of hand movements.
"However, in the longer term, Entertaible could be used to invent brand new games offering unprecedented levels of user interaction - games that would never become predictable or ever quite 'feel' the same twice, however often you played them."
"Perhaps most important of all, Entertaible will host electronics games that promote invaluable social interaction within groups and families. This contrasts completely to the solitary, isolated environment encouraged by some contemporary console-based electronic games."
So there you have it - videogames are yesterday's news, The Future is all about rowing with your brother over whether or not he did indeed roll a six during the battle for Irkutsk before the dog ate the dice, only round an electronic table. Or rather, an Entertaible. Hurrah!