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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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What's new ??
By Shino0oo on 5/30/2007 1:58:04 AM , Rating: 2
Here in Japan you already have such devices in sushi restaurants or karaoke places.
Touch and order is nothing new.
And multitouch technology isn't either.

Good for ms to bring it to the masses ... but no wait .. they have locked down the market by patenting that already right ?

RE: What's new ??
By Treckin on 5/30/07, Rating: 0
RE: What's new ??
By Shino0oo on 5/30/07, Rating: 0
RE: What's new ??
By Fire404 on 5/30/2007 2:46:18 AM , Rating: 2
ps : and ask yourself if 99% of us use ms oses to bash ms .. is it by choice, when the ms 'tax' plagues nearly all new built pcs

Not sure how MS 'taxes' my self-built rigs...... if people have a basis to hate MS so strongly then maybe they should look into building their own rig and choose their own OS. If they arent capable of this, chances are they wouldnt be able to a PC if MS hadn't progressed the platform in the way that they have.

And no, I'm no fanboi, I have a Linux install sitting next to my XP/Vista install and use Firefox and OpenOffice instead of the MS products.

RE: What's new ??
By JoeBanana on 5/30/2007 7:14:32 AM , Rating: 2
What are u talking about worldofwarcrack runs just fine under Linux :P

RE: What's new ??
By Griffinhart on 5/30/2007 1:50:16 PM , Rating: 2
Certainly touchscreen and multitouch screen isn't new, but this brings stuff that is pretty new as well.

The technology doesn't use traditional touch screen systems. Instead it uses an infrared camera system that brings several advantages.

1. No special coating on the screen. That means you can use cleaners on it with no worries.

2. Relatively inexpensive to replace the touch surface if needed. It is, after all, just a piece of glass or plexiglass.

3. The ability for the surface to read symbols. That was one of the things the videos have demoed. There is probably a label with a specific symbol on the camera and phones in the demo that the surface reads. It allows it to quickly identify and wirelessly connect to devices just by placing them on the table. This is something no touch screen can currently do. This is simply an awesome concept. Something I've only seen on Star Trek.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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