If you think video conferencing is reserved for stale meetings that serve little purpose aside from burning up your time, Airhockey Over a Distance aims to ice that perspective. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) created the table (or should we say, "tables") to showcase the "power of advanced networking" and joins a host of other wild ways to get your game on. The table plays like your average air hockey match, except the opponent's half is in another location, and replacing your ferocious counterpart is a screen with a live video feed of him / her and a fancy puck-ejecting system. Sensors at the midway point of the table detect the angle, speed, and trajectory of the not-exactly-oncoming puck, and instructs the mechanism how and where to fire the disc -- you slap it back, and the same sequence happens on your compadre's end. Because this was crafted solely to show the wonders of "computer-mediated human-to-human interaction," there's currently no plans to take this prototype into sports bars or internet cafés, but one question still remains: what happens if the puck gets hung at center ice?

HDTV Listings for July 31, 2006