An Amazing Kitchen Table from The New York Times
Yes, it's made some awful business decisions, but the New York Times has been savvy when it comes to technology development, maintaining a research lab and corps of programmers who, to take one example, rushed out an app to ensure the Times was on stage at the iPad unveiling. Now the company's hackers want to reinvent how you eat breakfast.
In the future, your eggs and toast will rest on the equivalent of a gigantic iPad, a kitchen table that is studded with shiny, graphical icons (like in Reeder) corresponding to Times sections, according to a demo the paper gave to Nieman Journalism Lab (above). The icons can be twisted to reorient them for your side of the table. Photos can be rotated and thrown across the surface to share with pals. Articles can be kept narrow or expanded to the width of a fully splayed broadsheet, depending on how many people you're sharing coffee with. The table can also detect and respond to items placed on top of it, for example showing a Starbucks ad around your cup of joe. Other morning routines are addressed by the Times' nifty "magic mirror."
It's a great adaptation of technology originally developed by Microsoft, a company that can't seem to make tablets work on their own. Maybe a merger is in order; Microsoft sure beats Carlos Slim as a business partner. Failing that, the paper should consider launching its own catalog. It already owns a distribution channel, has an obsessive ergonomics expert on staff, and gets all kinds of unsolicited inspections and advice and feedback from no less a design authority than Steve Jobs. Eat your heart out, Pottery Barn.