Two smartypants have demonstrated how awesome board games may become in the next decade.
Michael Rooke and Roel Vertegaal from the Human Media Lab at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada have put together a video showing off their concept for the future of board games. The demonstration uses an overhead camera and a projection system, but ultimately the system would use technology like OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diodes), which are thin, flexible displays that do not require a backlight.
Don't let the words "tangible graphics on hexagonal bezel-less screens" confuse you, that's just another way to say that Rook and Vertegaal are doing some cool stuff with tile-based gaming. Each hexagonal tile used here becomes its own individual piece for a game, and when that piece is put in a certain relation to other pieces, specific effects can occur. I didn't think this was that mind-blowing at first, until I saw one tile pour right into another one.
For tile based games, putting a piece next to another could initiate an attack. Pouring a tile, as shown, could move a unit from one space to another. In an estimated 5-10 years, this kind of technology may be possible on a much grander scale, allowing for electronic games to be played while sitting around a table. Imagine a game of Monopoly where all of the pieces are OLEDs, and you can see the type of cool stuff that might be possible in the semi-near future.
This demonstration is very similar to the interactive version of Dungeons & Dragons shown a while back, but doesn't require the use of a Microsoft Surface. The future of board games looks extremely awesome, if OLED or similar technology actually bears fruit. Even more interesting is Vertegaal's demonstration of "DisplayObjects", which would allow a single OLED screen to change its function between multiple devices on the fly (such as from an iPod to a Blackberry). Pretty incredible.