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Microsoft Surface

Browsing through images is a breeze with Surface

"You mind if I have some of your tasty beverage to wash this down?"

Image manipulation is just a fingertip away
Surface takes user involvement with digital media to the next level

Microsoft is looking to today make the same breakthrough in interface technology with "Surface" that the mouse did back in the 1980s. Surface, which will be demonstrated today at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference, provides instant interaction between people and digital content using hand gestures on a touch screen.

"With Surface, we are creating more intuitive ways for people to interact with technology," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "We see this as a multibillion dollar category, and we envision a time when surface computing technologies will be pervasive, from tabletops and counters to the hallway mirror. Surface is the first step in realizing that vision."

In its current form, Surface is incorporated into a 30" display mounted into a table. This allows user involvement to expand beyond just one person. Surface is capable of recognizing input from not just one finger, but up to dozens of inputs simultaneously.

This technology isn’t exactly new as Apple uses a less complex version on its iPhone and “multi-touch” technology was demonstrated by Jeff Han to much fanfare last year. Microsoft, however, is bringing multi-touch to the masses.

Users can perform tasks such as browsing through pictures and music files by simply using their fingers. For users operating Surface in restaurants, a simple touch of the screen could allow you to order a beverage during a meal.

Surface also has the ability to read bar codes on items to provide further information to the user. "This means that when a customer simply sets a wine glass on the surface of a table, a restaurant could provide them with information about the wine they’re ordering, pictures of the vineyard it came from and suggested food pairings tailored to that evening’s menu," said Microsoft. "The experience could become completely immersive, letting users access information on the wine-growing region and even look at recommended hotels and plan a trip without leaving the table."

Microsoft also notes that the transfer of digital content is also possible with Surface. So it's not too hard to envision being able to set your Zune on Surface and transfer your playlist or video files for playback on the 30" display.

Surface will first be available at Harrah’s Entertainment properties, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts and T-Mobile retail stores.

"When visitors to Las Vegas choose to stay at one of our casinos, they can enjoy the amenities at all of them," said Harrah senior VP Tim Stanley. "Microsoft Surface is a great way to help our guests get the most out of their trips to Las Vegas by putting all the offerings and experiences we make available at their fingertips."

"We are creating new and engaging ways for our guests to connect with their passions while away from home. Microsoft Surface puts us at the forefront of technology and allows guests to interact with each other and our hotel in a revolutionary way," said Hoyt H. Harper II, senior vice president for Sheraton.

You can view a demo of Surface in action here (WMV).

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RE: One problem is still there
By Brandon Hill on 5/30/2007 12:53:22 AM , Rating: 5
Microsoft has already demoed a version with a "revolutionary voice recognition system"

RE: One problem is still there
By subhajit on 5/30/2007 1:20:22 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the link. That was awesome.

RE: One problem is still there
By thartist on 5/30/2007 3:54:28 PM , Rating: 2
I'll tell you something more exciting: microsoft has promessed, demoed and published almost EVERYTHING under the adjective of "revolutionary" ;)

RE: One problem is still there
By TomZ on 5/30/2007 5:10:06 PM , Rating: 2
It's called "marketing" and most good companies do it.

RE: One problem is still there
By ZmaxDP on 5/30/2007 5:33:44 PM , Rating: 2
I think you may have inadvertently coined a new term:

"promessed" - to professionally screw something up

I like it, and in some cases it even fits with Microsoft rather well. But then again, it's easy to "promess" something up if you are expected to simultaneously innovate and work with every existing piece of junk hardware device on the planet...

And on the side, Firefox has a built in spell check function, so you might try using it as your browser of choice for forum hopping. Though in this case, I rather like the results of spelling carelessness.

RE: One problem is still there
By thartist on 5/31/2007 6:04:25 PM , Rating: 2
To start, English is not my first language and yeh, "promised" was the right word. "Promessed" would be a little "mylanguagecized" variation ;)

Else, f*ck you miss Spelling, you think you are cool at bashing me for a misspell... I don't use FF by the way, i prefer Opera. Fortunately i can speak english with barely an error from a long time to a long time.

Final, promessed could be well used to name MS's practice.

RE: One problem is still there
By chick0n on 6/5/07, Rating: -1
"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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