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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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Already been done before
RE: Already been done before
By Drexial on 5/30/2007 3:05:58 AM , Rating: 2
thank you for posting this, i saw this demoed a year ago with warcraft 3 and google earth

RE: Already been done before
By crystal clear on 5/30/2007 4:56:13 AM , Rating: 3
No ! it was presented at Cebit 07 by-

MS could have licensed the technology from Navisis to use it for its products.

MS simply adapts the technology for its product design.

RE: Already been done before
By GoodBytes on 5/30/2007 9:16:12 AM , Rating: 2
Doesn't Apple do that also?

RE: Already been done before
By MobileZone on 5/31/2007 1:19:44 AM , Rating: 3
No, Apple only does marketing and design.

RE: Already been done before
By BigMTBrain on 6/5/2007 1:43:42 AM , Rating: 2
I'm truly no Apple fanboy, but the following Apple idea will be an evolution beyond this one. Imagine the possibilities when the same table technology can not only feel you but can see and incorporate the environment into the experience. That environment includes you, objects, and the surroundings as well.


Apple's all-seeing screen
We could soon see a new kind of display screen from computer maker Apple – one that simultaneously takes pictures while showing images.

The clever idea is to insert thousands of microscopic image sensors in-between the liquid crystal display cells in the screen. Each sensor captures its own small image, but software stitches these together to create a single, larger picture.

A large LCD screen filled with image sensors would be ideal for videoconferencing, Apple suggests, as participants would always appear to look straight into the "camera". The technique could also add a camera function to a cellphone or PDA without wasting space, and light from the screen should help illuminate a subject.

The more sensors there are, the wider and clearer the image. Sketches accompanying the company's patent show as many sensors as liquid crystal cells in a screen. If some of the sensors have different focal lengths, switching between them would make the screen behave like a zoom lens.

Read the full patent,

Original article:


RE: Already been done before
By Etern205 on 5/30/2007 10:03:50 AM , Rating: 1
I guess in these days, if you came up with a new
innovative idea. Patented it first before someone
else does it.

Poor college student, while he was demonstrating the
demo, he must be thinking this will make me rich.
But not that M$ has taken his idea, his dream of becoming
rich is shattered. :(

RE: Already been done before
By stromgald on 5/30/2007 3:24:28 PM , Rating: 2
Who said anybody owns the technology? I highly doubt Microsoft is stealing this technology. Either it wasn't patented before they started showing it to everyone at TED confrences, or Microsoft is licensing it from the grad students and professor who helped develop it. If Microsoft is copying something that's patented, Jeff Han can go sue them.

I saw Jeff Han's demo on youtube a year ago, and yeah it's awesome. I'm thrilled that MSFT has decided to bring this to the masses. They have the resources to make it work.

RE: Already been done before
By airsickmoth on 5/30/2007 3:43:25 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft's is much more advanced and refined than any of these and it is ready for the world this year. And Microsoft's is more than just a multi-touch display.

The Warcraft III one was pretty terrible. It was a top down projection so your hand would get in the way of the image. The Acura one was just a simple customized experiment. The others were an interesting interface, but it didn't do anything new. You could touch it and manipulate the display. Its like if you could plug 5 mice into a computer and use them all at once.

What makes the Microsoft interface unique and amazing is its recognition of objects. When the guy put down a phone and the table recognized what phone it was, I was floored. He could move the phone around and the display would follow it. He could drop new price points onto the phone and it would calculate the invoice. That is a real world application. I could go into a store tomorrow, and use that to accomplish something real. Not just "oh look, I can draw lines and move them."

Then the restaurant application where you can put down your credit card on the table and it will see who you are and show you your favorite meals was amazing. And who hasn't wished they had an easy way to divide the bill between you and some friends? Or pick the music that plays at a restaurant. And the Zune sharing (I bet it will work for any WiFi player or bluetooth player) was brilliant.

Just imagine having this in your living room. You place your phone down on the table, and it can link with it and download any pictures you took with the camera, or drag and drop some new music into it. Imagine this thing at a house party. Your friends could come over, place their wifi (or bluetooth) device on the table, drag some songs off it they want to play at the party and put their choices in the queue, then pick up their device.

RE: Already been done before
By Future145 on 6/22/2007 12:40:05 PM , Rating: 2
Tech is usually copied and improved upon, thats how the industry works. Microsoft isnt stealing it, they are just making it usable for the mass market and that is affordable(maybe).

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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