Microsoft Surface

Microsoft just announced something called Microsoft Surface.

It’s a multitouch tabletop, and the applications they show in use bring to mind that old multitouch video that floated around the 'net (that student project) and, of course, the iPhone’s interface.

I have no idea how much this thing is going to cost. I’m working my way through the site now.

I wonder if it’s wireless…

[EDIT] OK, I’ve had a chance to comb through the Microsoft Surface site. I honestly have no clue who’s going to buy this thing. It looks expensive. And self-contained. But funky, if you want to have a cutting edge coffee table.

Nifty technology.

Can’t think of a single use for it that makes any sense, but it’s slick looking!

What’s this thing being marketed as? Is a casual computer user supposed to buy this instead of a computer now, or is this being marketed more as some kind of appliance people will want in addition to their computers? I don’t feel like sitting through a bunch of videos to find out, so let me know what you learn. Split-second-first-reaction is that there’s no market for this, but maybe I just don’t get it yet.

Ok, so my first impression is consistent with you guys. Good job on the fancy movie prop MS!

That looks really, really cool. Don’t know how practical it would be though.

Well, we’ve been wanting an overhead projector for our pen paper D&D games to project maps onto our playing surface. This would work also.

Popular Mechanics had an exclusive first look a little while ago which they just posted here. It’s a video.

Some interesting stuff from the video:

Not meant for consumers at first.
$5000 - $10,000
The cameras built into the table that recognize objects are pretty cool.
The ability to project things onto other compatible devices that are placed on the table is freaky.

Theoretically a whole new generation of “Surface” compatible devices (music players, video players, cameras, phones, etc…) are coming. It’s got the same chicken and egg problem, though. Who wants to pay extra for this in a device if there are no tabletops anywhere except for Harrahs or a Starwood hotel?

Haha. That’s pretty much the begining and end of MS Surface right there then.

The splitting-the-check thing was pretty cool.

Yeah, it’s meant for kiosks, at first at least. If the tech gets supercheap, it has the potential to commoditize, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

No, dammit, it’s meant for serious tabletop gamers.

I’m sure they’re trying their hardest to get a multi-touch iPhone-killer Zune cobbled together as fast as they can, but assuming Apple releases on schedule, they know it won’t be in time, so they just want to get something out there to shout “Hey, me too!” for now.

Will it enable me to piece together disparate clues in video form culled from the minds of a small group of psychics floating in a big tub of milk?

Edit: 'Cause for that price, it better.

Photon milk, here of all places, get it right!

This sounds a lot like that Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs project from last year.

  • Alan

Bill was playing around with an early prototype of this last year at CES - in the hall of a pretend family he used it to keep track of everybodys whereaboiuts while watching the news at the same time.

Cool, but far far from home use yet.

I like the dragging music to the Zune part - that even has iTunes beat for ease of use. But if it only happens in a limited number of stores, it’s irellevant.

Sure, it doesn’t appear to have a lot of applications yet, but I’m sure the light bulb didn’t either when it was invented, since most houses weren’t wires for electricity at the time (and no, I’m not comparing this to the lightbulb).

On the other hand, as just a relatively pure advancement of the technology, its a pretty neat step. Multiple input capability, multiple platform applications, etc. I can certainly see trendy places finding use for them, and as the price drops, entreprenuers will step up to the plate and develop uses for the technology. What we end up with in the marketplace might not even have a Microsoft or Windows sticker on it anywhere, but this sort of consumer device seems a pretty obvious direction for the market to expand into.

Placing devices on the table and having the table automatically detect and interact with them is pretty cool, but it seems like they promised essentially the same technology with Bluetooth. How is having the PDA appear on the table for interaction any different than its appearing on your computer screen if it got within six feet of it or whatever? And wouldn’t it be more convenient to keep your PDA in your pocket or purse? Isn’t the point of wireless technology that you don’t have to have physical contact? I’m still waiting for the wireless connection between my Ipod and my car. I think I’d use that a lot more than some table I have to be hunched over.

That said, it still looked really cool.

The car bit is ready for you (and really good), now you just need the slowpokes at Apple to make an iPod with A2DP Bluetooth built in.

As to the rest, I think it’s pretty coomon to put your phone, mp3-player or camera on the table, when you’re sitting down. Being able to just transfer pictures, music, whatever by dragging from the device to a spot on the table is seriously cool.
We just need more than the Zune to recognize the table and more than a few hotels to have a table. At that price we’ll have to wait a bit.

I see this having potential in business conference rooms as well, namely boardrooms.

I see this having potential in business conference rooms as well, namely boardrooms. Could be good for training too.