Raleigh, N.C. — Students at North Carolina State University are getting a taste of tomorrow's cutting-edge gadgets this month with the opening of 1,700-square-foot learning laboratory called the Technology Sandbox.
The Sandbox, at the university's D.H. Hill Library, gives them a hands-on experience with the latest in interactive technology.
The lab is made possible by a $100,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina.
It serves as a test bed and showcase for technologies that will be available when the James B. Hunt Library opens on N.C. State's Centennial Campus in 2012.
"It's going to have a ton of tech-rich spaces that no one's ever seen in a library before," NCSU Libraries' David Woodbury said.
Some of the featured technology is already being used in departments on campus, but Woodbury says the Sandbox will make it available to all students and faculty.
Students and teachers could also use the technology to collaborate on projects and lessons.
Educators say the possibilities are endless.
"The library's trying to get the right tools into the hands of the people who might be creating the new tools of tomorrow," Woodubury said.
Work on the lab is just beginning.
It already features two Microsoft Surface tables that allow multiple users to simultaneously moved digital information and objects around the unit's tabletop by simply touching the screen.
The university also plans to install a 8-foot-by-3-foot display wall that will have an interactive, multi-touch system, similar to that of an iPad.
"A lot these tools are visualization tools, so they allow people to take data and visualize them," Woodbury said.
For now, students are just enjoying the technology.
"It's pretty cool," student Sam Tyler said. "It's like from the movies, straight up."