Big announcement from Microsoft today, well, actually yesterday, surface computing is here and hopefully, it will be coming my way soon, can’t wait to check it out, but there are plenty of videos and information out already to wet your whistle. Microsoft says it will first appear in hotels, restaurants, etc, where touch screens already exist, but not in the same way or amount of screens, I am sure.
Picture a surface that can recognize physical objects from a paintbrush to a cell phone and allows hands-on, direct control of content such as photos, music and maps. Today at the Wall Street Journal?s D: All Things Digital conference, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer will unveil Microsoft Surface?, the first in a new category of surface computing products from Microsoft that breaks down traditional barriers between people and technology. Surface turns an ordinary tabletop into a vibrant, dynamic surface that provides effortless interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. Beginning at the end of this year, consumers will be able to interact with Surface in hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues.
Microsoft Surface puts people in control of their experiences with technology, making everyday tasks entertaining, enjoyable and efficient. Imagine ordering a beverage during a meal with just the tap of a finger. Imagine quickly browsing through music and dragging favorite songs onto a personal playlist by moving a finger across the screen. Imagine creating and sending a personal postcard of vacation pictures instantly to friends and family, while still wearing flip-flops.
Consumers now have an entirely new way to get the information they need, turning their everyday tasks into enjoyable and engaging experiences,? said Pete Thompson, general manager of Microsoft Surface Computing. There are hundreds of thousands of restaurants, hotels and retail locations that are looking to give their customers the unique and memorable experiences that Surface will provide. In turn, companies have a new opportunity for generating additional revenue streams and increasing retail traffic. Source: Microsoft Launches New Product Category: Surface Computing Comes to Life in Restaurants, Hotels, Retail Locations and Casino Resorts
I can see this being handy in a busy bar, where each user selects their drink or refill and it goes into a queue for the bartender to make, taking the decision on who gets served next out of his hands and placing it into the correct order. But, never mind restaurants, bars and hotels, where else will surface computing be useful? Scoble saw a demo for it two years ago and this is how it worked then.
Anyway, surface computing is real and is wild. I want one of these in my house, but it is too expensive. Anyway, here?s how it works:
1) It has a piece of holographic glass that can display images that a projector shoots at it.
2) It has a projector underneath.
3) It has two cameras, aimed at the glass which can triangulate on objects on it.
4) It has software, written in Windows Presentation Foundation, that take advantage of the new hardware. Source: Ahh, the PlayTable, er Surface Computing, how it works?
Popular Mechanics got to see a demo of surface computing from Microsoft, listen to a couple of the cool things they showed them, and then visit their site and check out the video.
Gattis took out a digital camera and placed it on the Surface. Instantly, digital pictures spilled out onto the tabletop. As Gattis touched and dragged each picture, it followed his fingers around the screen. Using two fingers, he pulled the corners of a photo and stretched it to a new size. Then, Gattis put a cell phone on the surface and dragged several photos to it ? just like that, the pictures uploaded to the phone. It was like a magic trick. He was dragging and dropping virtual content to physical objects. I’m not often surprised by new technology, but I can honestly say I’d never seen anything like it. Source: Microsoft Surface: Behind-the-Scenes First Look (with Video)
They also have some great shots and text on how it works exactly. Channel 10 has a great video here. They also answer the question of when will we see these in homes, they said that the first adopters, Harrah?s Entertainment, Starwood Hotels and T-Mobile, will have it first and as it gets bigger and used by more companies, prices will come down and our coffee tables will be surface computers before we know it. Wonder if they will be easier on our kids heads than the coffee tables were?
Techcrunch wonders when it will recognize that our beer is empty and replenishment is automatic. Robert McLaws has a GREAT wrap-up of the history of Microsoft Surface, and says that it started as TouchLight. Lots of great videos and images available at the official site for Microsoft surface here.
Check out this video demo, and the complete list of Microsoft Surface videos we have available.