Following in the footsteps of HP with its interactive coffee table that it demoed last year, Philips is showing off what it is calling an Entertaible at this year's CES in Las Vegas.

The ‘Entertaible' is a tabletop gaming platform that marries traditional multi-player board and computer games in a uniquely simple and intuitive way.

The Entertaible allows the players to sit around it and play a new class of electronic game. A game class that combines the features of computer gaming - such as dynamic playing fields and gaming levels, with the social interaction and tangible playing pieces - such as pawns and dies - of traditional board games.

Currently a working concept, Entertaible comprises 30-inch LCD, sophisticated touch screen-based multi-object position detection, and all supporting control electronics.

While the concept of a multi-user digital table is not new, previous solutions have utilised complex arrangements of overhead cameras and dimmed lighting that detract from the user experience. The Philips Entertaible, however, is based on a series of infrared LEDs and photodiodes discretely mounted around the perimeter of a single touch screen. It requires no special lighting conditions or other equipment and is entirely ‘hand' operated by touch alone. Yet Entertaible can simultaneously detect dozens of objects (including fingers).

“One of the most obvious and immediate applications of this technology will be the board game market and the opportunity to reinvigorate established board game classics”, comments Gerard Hollemans of Philips Research in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, who leads the research team that developed Entertaible. “However, in the longer term, Entertaible could be used to invent brand new games offering unprecedented levels of user interaction - games that would never become predictable or ever quite ‘feel' the same twice, however often you played them”.

We personally can't wait for that fully interactive version of Risk to be available. Unfortunately, while Philips is keen to make this a commercial product, there is as yet no date or price attached to a release either in the UK or the US.