Little German Company Behind Star-Trek MultiTouch School Desks

Some say that they look like big iPhone but they are in fact huge touchscreens that pass as interactive desks for schools and have been created by technology experts at the Durham University to "improve student participation in classrooms".

The project, Synergnet, is backed by a GBP 1.5 million funding package and is part of a wider push for technology enhanced learning and looks to "facilitate teachers' progress through Beauchamp's five transitional competency stages by initially enabling teachers to operate the technology using their familiar pedagogy"

According to the Synergynet website, the device will be rolled out to schools from September 2009 and eerily resembles Microsoft's Surface devices (which cost between USD 5000 and USD 10,000).

Instead a little known company called Lumin Visual Technologies AG appears to be behind the project which involves a commercial-grade games engine with a Physics engine (yep, just like Havoc)

According to Lumin's website, the 42-inch terminal touchscreen is illuminated by a 4500 ANSI Lumen projector using a special short throw lens and every screen contact is recognised by an infra-red camera inside the terminal.

The position of the user's finger or an object is then mapped to its correct coordinates by a Multitouch Input Management Software (MIM) developed by Lumin which operates as an interface between hardware and user software.

Up to 32 inputs can be senses simultaneously, that's three children putting their 10 fingers at the same time on the screen.