Surface Computing is a project that’s been in the making over at Microsoft for several years now, and just last night Microsoft filled everybody in on all of the details regarding their Tabletop Computer (also code-named Play Table). The videos that are included at the bottom of this post do most of the talking, and after viewing them, I have to admit that this tabletop computer looks slick! It’s more intuitive than anything I’ve seen before, and I’d say without a doubt, surface computing definitely has the “wow” factor.
Where will the tabletop computer appear?
This tabletop computer will appear in hotels like Starwood, restaurants, retail locations like T-Mobile, and casino resorts like Harrah’s. Gestures like pinches and pushes will navigate you through data like pictures. The top of the table which is a 30 inch touchscreen in a clear acrylic frame will react to brushes, fingers, and everyday objects.
While responding to more than just one touch at a time, it will be able to recognize physical objects like cell phones, cameras, paint brushes, etc., It gives you the control over photos, music, maps, and more.
One example that I was impressed with was the table acting as a cashier and splitting the bill amongst a group of people. Restaurant patrons would be able to place their credit cards right on the table (object recognition) and then drag the food and beverage items that they had right to their card.
Users would be able to resize and shuffle through photos using their hands and their fingers instead of a mouse. The resizing of the photos reminded me of the iPhone demo in which two hands were used to resize a photo. It can also act as concierge in the lobby of a hotel to provide directions and maps.
It’s no everyday table.
Your everyday table is now something much, much more sophisticated. No longer is there a need for a mouse or a keyboard, so interaction is not traditional by any means.
Microsoft outlined the key attributes for this table as:
- Direct interaction – Users can “grab” info with their hands and interact with content.
- Multi-touch – Use one finger, two fingers, or all of them!
- Multi-user – Everybody gathered around the table can collaborate using the computer.
- Object recognition – Depending on the object, a different digital response will occur.
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO says:
“We see this as a multi-billion 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.”
Pricing will range from $5,000 to $10,000 per table, so it won’t be popping up in every household anytime soon.
Surface computing is certainly a new method that will undoubtedly impress. I just can’t help but wonder though, what would a blue-screen of death look like on this one?
Oh, and I don’t think I’m alone on this one when I say that this can only mean a multi-touch Zune must be coming soon. In fact, perhaps there is evidence that this is true?