If you thought Apple's iPad was ahead in the battle of the tablets, think again: Google is not only said to be building an edgy tablet but also just purchased BumpTop, a Toronto-based startup that specializes in 3-D multitouch technology.
BumpTop's technology would represent an innovative addition to Google's tablet's repertoire: the ability for users to to toss files and programs around, stack them, and even hang them on tiny digital walls. GigaOm reports that this kind of three-dimensional, multitouch user interface would be a "dramatic departure from the typical 2-D app/icon approach" and present an innovative alternative to Apple's design. This technology could also transform user experience with the product.
Last month, a number of reports about the Google tablet sprung up across the Internet. In April, The Huffington Post called the Google device, which will run the Android operating system and seeks to be very much like a computer, an "iPad killer." At the time, The New York Times also reported that people with knowledge of the project said Google had been experimenting with some publishers to explore the delivery of books, magazines, and other content on a tablet.
GigaOm says that this acquisition - which could have cost Google up to $40 million - and the subsequent incorporation of their technology into the device, is one of the ways in which the high tech company plans to set its tablet device apart from the crowd.
The launch of Apple's iPad has prompted a number of tech companies to create devices that are suited to compete with their sleek tablet. In January, HP unveiled its take on the tablet at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In February, Amazon bought a touch screen company, fueling rumors that it was planning to build a Superkindle to compete with Apple. Neofonie built the WePad, a tablet computer that is quickly gaining ground among publishers in Europe. Microsoft, which had been working on a tablet device, the Courier, only recently announced its plans to cancel the project.
Besides providing an alternative to Apple's iPad for tablet enthusiasts, more tablet devices may mean more beneficial revenue-sharing agreements between tech companies and news publishers as companies scramble to close content deals. Although it is not clear if news publishers are currently cutting a profit off of Apple's iPad, more competition among tech creators may result in better deals for the content itself and for advertising as well.
Photo: Tablet mock-up Glen Murphy