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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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By bkm32 on 5/30/2007 1:28:46 PM , Rating: 2
I agree wtih your assessments of MS; however, it seems many ppl have missed the point of this article and bit the flamebait of a couple of posters that have entirely missed the boat, here.

MS wasn't the first company to "invent" this technology, but they (along with Apple and Samsung) are applying it in useful (and money-making) ways. There's nothing wrong with that.

BTW, Thomas Edison invoked many of the same tactics as MS in his war against AC power-inventor Nikola Tesla. Mr. Edison is considered one the greatest inventors of all time, an American hero, and icon.

I personally don't understand the "hatred" for a company, unless their actions specifically targeted another in a very personal way. For example, look at the case where Windows Vista killed several pods of bottle-nosed dolphins. Everyone loves dolphins (especially bottle-nosed ones). Why would Vista do such a thing? Oh the humanity!

Seriously, get over it ppl! If you don't like Windows, then speak with your wallet. PC users did when they stopped buying Macs in the 80s and 90s. Doh!

Now, back to the technology at hand--IMHO, this is the next step in the evolution of the user interface. By merging the hardware I/O device with the GUI and speech recognition S/W, MS and many others are enabling the computer to be of better, easier use to more and more ppl. Remember, the computer is a tool that's best used in-conjuction with inventing other tools such as, the Internet, weather simulations (you know that Global Warming thing is gonna really suck), the flying car, etc.

Keep in mind, the modern-day hammer was once a huge innovation in home construction tools. We'd be real salty if it stayed just a rock tied to a wooden stick.

Long story short, enjoy the new innovations, leave the bashing at home in your bathroom where it belongs (comment directed at those who prefer to bash MS, Sony, Nintendo, or anyone else who's had a better idea than the basher).

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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