Picture a surface that can recognize physical objects from a paintbrush to a mobile phone and allows hands-on, direct control of content such as photos, music and maps. This is what people attending Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference saw first hand (no pun intended), presented by Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer.
Microsoft Surface is the first in a new category of surface computing products from Microsoft, turning an ordinary tabletop into a dynamic surface that provides interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects.
From the end of this year, consumers will be able to interact with Surface in hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues.
The intuitive user interface works without a traditional mouse or keyboard, allowing people to interact with content and information on their own or collaboratively with their friends and families, just like in the real world. Surface is a 30-inch display in a table-like form factor that small groups can use at the same time. From digital finger painting to a virtual concierge, Surface brings natural interaction to the digital world in a new and exciting way.
Microsoft says this new technologuy can create new situations, such as ordering a beverage during a meal with just the tap of a finger or quickly browsing through music and dragging favorite songs onto a personal playlist by moving a finger across the screen.
Surface also features the ability to recognize physical objects that have identification tags similar to bar codes. This means that when a customer simply sets a wine glass on the surface of a table, a restaurant could provide them with information about the wine they’re ordering, pictures of the vineyard it came from and suggested food pairings tailored to that evening’s menu.
Surface computing at Microsoft is an outgrowth of a collaborative effort between the Microsoft Hardware and Microsoft Research teams, which were struck by the opportunity to create technology that would bridge the physical and virtual worlds.