30 May 2007

Microsoft Announces Surface Computer



All Things Digital conference Wednesday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will unveil Microsoft Surface, the first in a new category of surface computing products from Microsoft that will “break down traditional barriers between people and technology”.
A Surface computer is able to recognize physical objects from a paintbrush to a cell phone and allows hands-on, direct control of content such as photos, music and maps. Surface turns an ordinary tabletop into a dynamic surface that provides interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects.
The new product is aimed directly at hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues and should be commercially available towards the end of the year
About a year ago I gave a presentation to a group of journalists about gadgets of the future and showed a video about a theoretical multi-touch computing system. When asked when we would see something like that in the wild, I optimistically ballparked 5-7 years. You can imagine my surprise when I walked into a room at Microsoft and found a fully functioning Microsoft Surface Computer (more than one, actually.)
I played with it long after the shoot was over. It’s incredible. And I know many of you have the same question I did; when am I going to have one of these in my house? Surface computers will start with Microsoft partners getting first shot at various public applications, you’ll most likely see them in action.
It’s an interesting product in that it’s completely out of left field. Microsoft gives examples of ordering a beverage during a meal with just the tap of a finger and quickly browsing through music and dragging favorite songs onto a personal playlist by moving a finger across the screen. Build this into a bar and you’d get one-touch beer service although I’m not sure if they’ve found a way to work out when your beer glass is empty so replenishment becomes automatic, maybe in a later version.

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