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The Surface machines measure 30 inches, or 2 and a half feet wide.

Users will soon be able to interact with Surface machines via touch at select AT&T stores
A cool new toy is coming to select AT&T stores in the new future, courtesy of Microsoft

Surface technology -- computer touch screens that can detect gestures -- is no longer science fiction.  Its found in an albeit crude form in devices such as the iPhone and the newest Zune.  However, Microsoft has even bigger plans to deploy new surface technologies

Microsoft, which believes the technology will be as game-changing as the mouse unveiled its "Surface" computer last year.  The impressive computer was able scan barcodes, move onscreen objects with tactile finger gestures, and respond to multiple simultaneous inputs, ie. multiple people touching its surface with more than on finger.  Microsoft plans on such tactile technologies to be key part of its upcoming Windows 7 operating system, the successor to Vista set to launch in 2010.

Now Microsoft has entered into a joint venture with AT&T to flaunt the promise of its new Microsoft Surface machines.  Microsoft will deploy, starting April 17, Microsoft Surface PCs to select AT&T stores, in locations including New York City, Atlanta, San Antonio and San Francisco.  Based on the level of success and lessons learned from the initial deployment, Microsoft and AT&T say they may choose to expand the deployment to all of AT&T’s 2,200 U.S. retail stores.

The new 30 inch displays, installed in stores will allow users to interact in a unique way to learn more about products.  Users will be able to control the machines via touch, gestures and placement of devices on the display.  Customers will be able to drag phone profiles side-by-side for a unique comparison.  They will be able to navigate by-hand through coverage maps to determine how well there locales are covered.   Additionally customers will be able to transport content into their phone by "dragging" ring tones, graphics, video and more and "dropping" it, all via tactile feedback, into a representation of their phone. 

AT&T is working with Microsoft to expand on these basic possibilities.  Says Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility, "We are thrilled to bring this groundbreaking new technology to our stores so we can introduce customers to their mobile worlds in a very personal and easy way.  We look forward to working with Microsoft to continue developing new ways for our customers to learn about the ever-growing lineup of mobile devices and applications."

Microsoft is excited at the chance to give their device a real world beta test, and hopes other companies will follow in suit and adopt the unique device.  Robbie Bach, president, Entertainment & Devices Division, Microsoft states, "Microsoft Surface transforms the retail environment from a transaction destination to a customer engagement destination.  With innovative and intuitive ways of accessing information and digital content on Microsoft Surface, consumers now have an entirely new, unique and personalized shopping experience. We’re excited to have AT&T bring this to life and be the first company showcasing Surface in its retail locations."

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Surface FTW
By InternetGeek on 4/2/2008 2:59:05 PM , Rating: 2
Though I love the concept of the surface, I would like it better if it wasn't locked into a certain network. I'm not sure it will actually help adoption in massive numbers, but I do know that locked devices actually make you pay more for doing simple tasks that you wouldn't normally pay for.

RE: Surface FTW
By GreenEnvt on 4/2/2008 3:05:34 PM , Rating: 2
I agree i don't want to see it just with a single company, but it's good for working out the bugs I guess.

It seems like a good fit here with the list of things you'll be able to do with it. Being able to place phones from the shelf on it to get feature comparisons, see coverage maps, and dragging ringtones to it all seem cool. Yes you can do this from a normal computer at home too, but I think people will like this ability in store with a nice interface.

RE: Surface FTW
By Hellburn on 4/2/2008 3:14:20 PM , Rating: 2
It isn't exactly locked to a network, since it isn't on a network. It's just that they've partnered to deploy it at the stores themselves... for use by customers (playground attraction). No one is going to be buying them (other than maybe AT&T), so it isn't pushing any prices up either since there is no price.

RE: Surface FTW
By jamesbond007 on 4/2/2008 3:14:30 PM , Rating: 5
Ahhh, this video pretty much sums it all up. :)

RE: Surface FTW
By AnnihilatorX on 4/2/2008 3:20:12 PM , Rating: 2
That's a parody though lol

RE: Surface FTW
By Mitch101 on 4/2/2008 5:17:34 PM , Rating: 2
It comes with a free game.

Seriously I want one.

I want one!!!!
By Locutus465 on 4/2/2008 3:29:34 PM , Rating: 2
I think it's nice that we'll be able to walk into AT&T stores (well those lucky enough to live in the deployment zones) and play with this.... But I WANT ONE!!!!!!!!!!

RE: I want one!!!!
By ZaethDekar on 4/2/2008 3:34:47 PM , Rating: 2
Ever since I first saw the surface I have wanted it haha.

Going to the closest Apple store near me had a 30" widescreen TV to be turned to look like a large iPhone. To be honest I wouldn't mind toting that around my house lol...

However one thing I've heard about the Surface is that it gets quite warm on your finger tips after long periods of use.... Anyone know anything more about this?

RE: I want one!!!!
By MrBlastman on 4/2/2008 4:08:13 PM , Rating: 2
The surgeon general warns that repeated use can cause finger cancer.

It is best to use them while wearing gloves.

RE: I want one!!!!
By epsilonparadox on 4/2/2008 6:08:04 PM , Rating: 2
I'm in san antonio so I'll definitely be checking it out.

Star Trek?
By Spivonious on 4/2/2008 4:04:54 PM , Rating: 3
Surface reminds me of the Star Trek: TNG computer interfaces. It's really neat that this techonology is available.

I sense a whole new future for board games. Imagine gathering around the table to play Axis & Allies and have your pieces be animated. Can't finish the game? Save it and load it later. No need to worry about the pieces getting moved while you're away.

RE: Star Trek?
By ZaethDekar on 4/2/2008 4:18:58 PM , Rating: 2
All they would have to do is make it for Windows... that way you can have monopoly, scrabble (You won't loose the letters!), shoots and ladders... any board game really. I think its a brilliant idea.

I play board games fairly often with my girlfriend and family and we ended up having to spend about $140 to get all new games due to lost pieces.

Only question I have now is how portable will it be? I mean, that is one hefty thing to tote around. Granted I travel back and fourth (40 minute drive) at least 4 times a week between my house and my girlfriends house.

The Island
By 4Eyes on 4/2/2008 7:17:16 PM , Rating: 2
Have you guys seen The Island? The best bit is where boss is using something similar to what this device seems to be. The top of his desk is an interactive computer screen with a glass pyramid that acts as a mouse. He uses it to move images (apps?) around the desktop (ha! literally his desktop) and wait for it... he rotates the 'mouse' to rotate the image to show his visitor. Completely blew me away... if only it were real.

Could be a lot of fun for fps games. Double tap to the head (again) literally.

RE: The Island
By root mean sq on 4/2/2008 10:55:32 PM , Rating: 2
hell we could combine this technology with those transparent active matrix OLEDs and move our windows around our screen and between screens like Tom Cruise in 'Minority Report.'

Scientology fanaticism not included, of course.

But what about my cat?
By brenatevi on 4/3/2008 5:21:01 AM , Rating: 2
My cat likes to jump up on my desk... I'd hate to think of the damage he could do jumping on one of the those.

1 Problem
By AlphaVirus on 4/3/2008 2:59:04 PM , Rating: 2
This looks like a great product and like another poster said below "it will revolutionize board games". I have to ponder, why AT&T? Apple has had the iphone at ATT for little under a year. I think if people see anything 'new' with touch screens, they will automatically assume its an Apple product.

I am not saying this to start MS vs Apple war, but I wonder how will it play in MS's favor.
Will people assume its Apple and want to buy it because they think its the 'hipness'.
Will they play with it, find out its MS, and start wanting MS more.
Will they play with it, find out its MS (who makes Vista) and think it will suck. (those who follow the banwagon of "Vista sucks")

I have loved the idea of this touch table since I saw it a year ago, and I cant wait to try it out.

Why San Antonio and not Houston?! (>_<)grr

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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