Ever wonder about an intelligent tabletop that would recognize what you put on it and tell you all about it? How about a tabletop that would let you drag and resize information with your fingertips with no need for a robotic glove or waldo ? Stop wondering. Microsoft Surface has arrived.
Microsoft Surface combines high-horsepower computing with a new twist on touch-sensitive computing: the ability to touch the screen in more than one place at a time without weirding out the operating system and processor running the show. It's a technology called 'multi-touch,' and Microsoft Surface demos show how it can be used to resize and move photos around on a virtual tabletop: touch two corners of a picture or video clip and stretch to make it larger or smaller. Another demo shows fingerpainting with multiple colors (and fingers) at the same time - with no washup afterwards!
Other Surface demos show how Microsoft Surface could be used to display product information at a store: place a product on the tabletop and model number, price, and interactive features appear. Surface can also support interactive mapping technologies: imagine a map that can give you directions from the 'you are here' position to anywhere you can point to on a map, or can show you the fastest way to get to your car?
As comments at Microsoftie Rob Burke's blog reveal, the technologies behind Microsoft Surface have been in the works for a long time (at least a decade).
Microsoft Surface is designed for lots of markets: home users who want an easier way to work with data (me, pick me!), business developers who want to create new and better ways to present information for internal or retail use, and anyone who wants the smartest tabletop in town for a mere 10 Large (that's $10,000 US if you're not a Sopranos fan). Fortunately, it won't be available for purchase until the end of 2007, so there's time to stuff some Benjamins in the piggy bank.