Microsoft Surface Device - The Break Of A New Era?

Early this month, Microsoft has finally announced, at the CTIA Wireless expo, that Microsoft Surface tabletop multi-touchscreen computers will officially launch this month (April 17) at five AT&T stores in New York City, San Francisco, Atlanta and San Antonio.

Too bad that it has been 11 months since Surface (code name: Milan) was introduced, when it looked rather revolutionary, and present time, when other such devices are already on the market - Apple iPhones have made multitouch screen interaction mainstream, Jeff Han’s huge multitouch displays are being used for election color commentary on CNN, and other, less-sophisticated touchscreen interfaces such as Savant’s Rosie coffee table and even ToyQuest’s Touch Table EES, could potentially beat Surface to the market.

Although none of these are quite the same as Surface, presenting it in AT&T stores (by the way, cellular rival T-Mobile was one of Surface’s original launch partners) with only a fraction of the device’s potential capabilities (only 8 of the phones that AT&T carries will interact with Surface) is not helping at all.
After all, a sophisticated computer shouldn’t be used as a fancy-looking information kiosk!

Microsoft Surface is essentially a simultaneous multi-user interface, fully networked, infinitely reconfigurable and with the potential to recognize and interact directly and wirelessly with objects on its tabletop.
And it should be treated as it is!

Here is a movie that shows some of its capabilities:

Surface has no cables or external USB ports for plugging in peripherals. For that matter, it has no keyboard, no mouse, no trackball — no obvious point of interaction except its screen. One of the key components of surface computing is a “multitouch” screen which accepts input from multiple fingers and multiple users simultaneously, allowing for complex gestures - including grabbing, stretching, swiveling and sliding virtual objects across the table. And the Surface has the added advantage of a horizontal screen, so several people can gather around and use it together.

Surface machines will cost $5000 to $10,000 at launch, but as prices fall, similar devices may find their way into the home. “We view its migration as similar to that of plasma TVs,” says Pete Thompson, Microsoft’s general manager for surface computing, somewhere in July 2007.
I’m not aware of recent prices for this technology devices though…
New York University professor Jeff Han said: “I firmly believe that in the near future, we will have wallpaper displays in every hallway, in every desk. Every surface will be a point of interaction with a computer and for that to happen, we really need interfaces like this.”

Computer scientists see technologies such as surface computing and multitouch as the key to a new era of ubiquitous computing, where processing power is embedded in almost every object and everything is interactive.

Are we there?!

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Reader Comments

microsoft surface certainly looks very promising. its site has a well cut out video. but the question here is, will it be worth it? i mean, will microsoft customise it to suit the needs of various industries?

I personally believe that this will replace the ubiquitous “meetings” and productivity will fall in the short term. In the long term possibly, when prices come down to more reasonable levels, people comfortable with larger machines like the PC will choose this over hand held devices.

surface looks very promising. but its viability is a question.

I first saw this about 6 months ago and thought it looked great. I guess that not getting it out sooner has really made the whole touch screen idea not unique anymore. Still think it looks great.

I think it will reach my country somewhere in the next 6 months time. So, that we can have a look on it.

Looks so futuristic. Very impressive.

Looks so sophisticated, no wonder the price is quite high.

[…] was telling you last week about Microsoft Surface a multi-touchscreen device which accepts input from multiple fingers and multiple users […]

Wow that thing looks amazing, microsoft hasnt impressed me in a while but they have with that.

It was just an imagination years back and now with the innovations, I think I’m going to look forward to what else Microsoft and other companies can offer. The price may be high but with the quality, I think it’s all worth it.