Microsoft Surface Computing

Microsoft Surface Computing
After six years of work Microsoft is now preparing to start the commercial launch of a new type of interactive technology called surface computing. The product showcased by Microsoft enables several people to digitally interact and can perform a variety of tasks including ordering food in a restaurant and paying without calling a waiter, playing games and receiving information about products in a shop. In a few years, if Microsoft will have its way, we shall be one step closer to the interactive digital world depicted in Spielberg’s “Minority Report”.

Microsoft’s surface computing device includes a 30-inch multitouch-screen embedded in an acrylic tabletop. The computer hidden in the table’s base runs a version of Windows Vista and has two cameras and a projector displaying the image shown on the table’s surface. Multitouch technology isn’t new and already existed several decades ago. In recent years several new multitouch technologies have been revealed, including the now famous Apple iPhone and Jeff Han’s perceptivepixel

So what will the new interactive table allow us to do? Besides allowing people to interact with each other, the table will also serve as a new way of interacting with tagged objects. By adding a small tag which identifies the object it will become possible to transfer images from a WIFI equipped digital camera directly to the computer. Other applications include using the table to receive information about a product in a shop marked with a special tag. In a restaurant it will become possible to pay by placing a credit card on the table which will be read using the table’s internal pair of cameras.  

Currently Microsoft plans to market the surface computer to commercial users including restaurants, bars, shops and casinos. Cost will be a major factor in determining the adoption rate of this new technology. Initial cost will be around $10,000. However, in several years, when the price of this new technology decreases it just might find its way into the center of your living room. 

An extensive video showing some of the capabilities of the new technology can be found here. More information and videos can be found on the Microsoft surface dedicated website.
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About the author

Iddo Genuth

Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.

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