Dell developing a ‘Smart Desk’ for the professional market

Dell is working on a product known as the Smart Desk, a context-sensitive touchscreen designed to let content creators ditch the keyboard and mouse.

The concept works by placing a 32in touchscreen horizontally on a desk and pairing it with a 34in vertical display, where touch functionality is optional. Currently, the two-monitors are powered by a single Optiplex, but Dell said it is experimenting with putting a CPU inside the Smart Desk and also looking at different screen sizes.

Aimed at design professionals, the Smart Desk enables users to interact with applications using a stylus, totums as well as finger-input. Customised digital keyboards can also be summoned as and when required.

The horizontal surface enables users to manipulate content in a natural position, replicating the experience you'd get on a pen and paper. During a demonstration, Photoshop, Google Maps, and 3D animation software Maya were showcased. Dell is working closely with ISVs to create plug-ins for other key enterprise applications.

"The Smart Desk is a new way to interact with the machine. Today you use a keyboard and mouse but for some applications we feel touch on the desk area is more intuitive and will lead to greater productivity," Andy Rhodes, executive director of Precision workstations told IT Pro.

"The keyboard and mouse is single person/single usage but the Smart Desk allows collaboration. You can have a film director and editor working together, moving things around on screen, for example."

There are passing similarities between the Smart Desk and the newly announced HP Sprout, an all-in-one, which uses a projector to track hand movement and beam a digital keyboard onto a desk. However, Rhodes was keen to put some distance beween the two products.

"HP Sprout is consumer-based and that's not our target market. Smart Desk is about helping professionals."

Dell is taking customer feedback on-board as it aims to fine tune the system. There is no information on release date or pricing, but it is on the product roadmap.

"It's definitely more than a concept, it's in the development phase," Rhodes added.

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.