The Media Guru

Jun 1, 2007


What is Microsoft Surface?
Microsoft Surface™, the first commercially available surface computer from Microsoft Corp., turns an ordinary tabletop into a vibrant, interactive surface. The product provides effortless interaction with digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. Surface is a 30-inch display in a table-like form factor that's easy for individuals or small groups to interact with in a way that feels familiar, just like in the real world. In essence, it's a surface that comes to life for exploring, learning, sharing, creating, buying and much more. Soon to be available in restaurants, hotels, retail establishments and public entertainment venues, this experience will transform the way people shop, dine, entertain and live.

How does Surface work?
At a high level, Surface uses cameras to sense objects, hand gestures and touch. This user input is then processed and the result is displayed on the surface using rear projection.

What is Surface computing?
Surface computing is a new way of working with computers that moves beyond the traditional mouse-and-keyboard experience. It is a natural user interface that allows people to interact with digital content the same way they have interacted with everyday items such as photos, paintbrushes and music their entire life: with their hands, with gestures and by putting real-world objects on the surface. Surface computing opens up a whole new category of products for users to interact with.

What are the key attributes of Surface computing?
Surface computing has four key attributes:
Direct interaction. Users can actually "grab" digital information with their hands and interact with content by touch and gesture, without the use of a mouse or keyboard.
Multi-touch contact. Surface computing recognizes many points of contact simultaneously, not just from one finger, as with a typical touch screen, but up to dozens and dozens of items at once.
Multi-user experience. The horizontal form factor makes it easy for several people to gather around surface computers together, providing a collaborative, face-to-face computing experience.
Object recognition. Users can place physical objects on the surface to trigger different types of digital responses, including the transfer of digital content.

Microsoft Surface, iPhone copycat… certainly not! Microsoft has been working on this project for years, much before iPhone was even thought of and Surface is a totally different product since it incorporates one unique aspect: object recognition. But it is indeed a technological revolution since it brings to light the extensive capabilities of multi-touch user experiences. You can order your food from your table, play games, hear music, browse the city maps, pay via Credit Card… However don’t expect Surface to be available at your nearby shop since it comes at a premium price of $10,000. Needless to say that you have to customize it.

The object recognition via cameras is simply amazing. Although hand gestures & common objects (plate, glass, pen, paper, etc) can be easily recognised, it requires an extensive database for electronics with which it can communicate. With the introduction of Surface, it is probable that there will be a basic Wireless Connection requirement for all devices – WiFi or Bluetooth, since you can’t run your USB cables around with you.

So does Surface run on a supercomputer?? No, it’s a 1 Ghz PC running on Vista. Since it runs on Vista, then the prospect of a tablet PC with object recognition & multi-touch can already be envisaged in the near future. If Microsoft can make Surface, then they can definitely make a touch screen ZunePhone… With Microsoft Surface, the future is NOW!

More info:
Bill Gates Show-off Video
Microsoft Surface

How does Surface work?
(1) Screen: A diffuser turns the Surface's acrylic tabletop into a large horizontal "multi-touch" screen, capable of processing multiple inputs from multiple users. The Surface can also recognize objects by their shapes or by reading coded "domino" tags.

(2) Infrared: Surface's "machine vision" operates in the near-infrared spectrum, using an 850-nanometer-wavelength LED light source aimed at the screen. When objects touch the tabletop, the light reflects back and is picked up by multiple infrared cameras with a net resolution of 1280 x 960.

(3) CPU: Surface uses many of the same components found in everyday desktop computers — a Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM and a 256MB graphics card. Wireless communication with devices on the surface is handled using WiFi and Bluetooth antennas (future versions may incorporate RFID or Near Field Communications). The underlying operating system is a modified version of Microsoft Vista.

(4) Projector: Microsoft's Surface uses the same DLP light engine found in many rear-projection HDTVs. The footprint of the visible light screen, at 1024 x 768 pixels, is actually smaller than the invisible overlapping infrared projection to allow for better recognition at the edges of the screen.
Read more here: Popular Mechanics

Download the Official Microsoft Surface Wallpaper here.

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