List Grid

Blogs Media Lab

Microsoft Surface

It is not often I find exciting Microsoft products on Slashdot, but there are exceptions to the rule. /. linked up a Popular Mechanics article on Microsoft Surface. Surface is a fancy multitouch table that Microsoft has been working on in semi-secrecy for a while. In addition to being multitouch, it also features proximity detection […]

It is not often I find exciting Microsoft products on Slashdot, but there are exceptions to the rule. /. linked up a Popular Mechanics article on Microsoft Surface. Surface is a fancy multitouch table that Microsoft has been working on in semi-secrecy for a while. In addition to being multitouch, it also features proximity detection so it can talk to your phone (bluetooth) and camera (wifi) and other devices when you put them on the table.

Gattis took out a digital camera and placed it on the Surface. Instantly, digital pictures spilled out onto the tabletop. As Gattis touched and dragged each picture, it followed his fingers around the screen. Using two fingers, he pulled the corners of a photo and stretched it to a new size. Then, Gattis put a cellphone on the surface and dragged several photos to it — just like that, the pictures uploaded to the phone. It was like a magic trick. He was dragging and dropping virtual content to physical objects. I’m not often surprised by new technology, but I can honestly say I’d never seen anything like it.

It looks and feels a lot like CityWall and some of Jeff Han’s work, but it does not appear that Han has worked with Microsoft. One of the notable differences between Han’s tables (which are pricey) and Surface is price. Surface is supposedly going to be on sale this year for $5,000 to $10,000. The article mentions commercial applications, but I would think that education and museums would also have a huge interest. While I wouldn’t be able to afford one for my home, $10,000 is a very accessible price point for a museum.

Whiz-bang aside, the table also reminds me a bit of Pac Man. I also wonder if it can run linux. I’m actually sure that when this comes out, there will be a linux distro that includes a Pac Man knock-off.

EDIT: Create Digital Music has some commentary, as does Chris O’Shea.

  • geekr says:

    The virtual and the real world just got a bit closer with the interaction possibilities of Surface. Exciting news considering that mice and keyboard rules the UI since ages.

  • colin says:

    This is exciting! I found more videos on this site. Bill Gates’ commentary is interesting.

    http://multi-touchscreen.com/microsoft-surface-video-multi-touch-jeff-han-apple-bill-gates.html

  • I doubt that the Surface can run Linux. It’s innovation is in the user interface, not the hardware. Any university could cobble together a few cameras and have them track objects near a screen. It’s the translation into commands that is innovative.

  • blue22 says:

    The surface computer combined with NFC is the work of a genius, as it changes the computer user’s experience…from individual to group….from vertical to horizontal…

    the horizontal change is particularly interesting, as gravity permits the NFC interface mobile objects (phones, PDA, cameras, iPODs) that become immobile by being placed on the surface…in the case of the phones, this will permit/promote impulsive spending as a group, since the phones are soon becoming the wireless wallets of this century…

    Consider the current large-scale testing of the Kyocera-Sirit NFC phones in the Southeatern USA with ramp-up expected by August…with the Microsoft Surface launch also expected this fall, and you may begin to consider the impact of Surface + Wireless Wallets upon business…

    …this approach to computing IS coming soon to a store, theater, bar, living-room near you…your children won’t know life without it…

  • @blue22:

    I agree the NFC capabilities are exciting, but I am a bit skeptical of Microsoft’s ability to do it right. They have a history of not fully implementing standards. Do I have to be running Windows Mobile on my phone (no thanks) to talk to the surface?

    The interesting thing here is that it shifts or shares the burden of NFC from the phone’s interface to the device. I suppose that can be true with other NFC devices as well, but this is a stunning example of it.

  • Scott says:

    This multi-touch, object positioning and orientation technology is can also be used in the field of live music performance.

    These guys built their own “surface” in just over two years. The entire project is open source and your can build your own own surface using off the shelf parts.

    http://mtg.upf.edu/reactable/?media

  • NiyazK says:

    thats great to know about.. Good Luck To MS :D