Microsoft has unveiled what it hopes to be a new multi-billion dollar product category called â€œSurface Computingâ€, which is designed to be completely intuitive, requiring no instructions or training to learn how to interact with the so-called “Surface”.
As part of the newÂ surface computing category, Company CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled a new machine, called â€œMicrosoft Surfaceâ€ during the Wall Street Journal’s “D: All Things Digital” conferenceÂ in Carlsbad, California.
The machine is the first surface-computing product from Microsoft that responds to touch and special bar codes attached to everyday objects.
“With Surface, we are creating more intuitive ways for people to interact with technology,” Ballmer said. “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.”
The coffee-table-shaped touch-controlled computers, which consist of a 30-inch acrylic horizontal display that fixes on top of a nearly 2-foot-tall table, are set to arrive in November with a price tag between $5,000 and $10,000 per unit.
According to Microsoft, this touch screen will allow people to â€œinteract with digital content the same way they have interacted with everyday items including photos, paintbrushes and music their entire life: with hands, with gestures and by putting real-world objects on the surface.â€ The screen can also read bar codes and identification tags embedded in objects like hotel chain membership cards.
It’s all powered by Vista with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity.
Key features of Microsoft Surface are as follows:
- Direct interaction: Users can actually â€œgrabâ€ digital information with their hands, interacting with content by touch and gesture, without the use of a mouse or keyboard.
- Multi-touch: Surface computing recognizes many points of contact simultaneously, not just from one finger like a typical touch-screen, but up to dozens of items at once.
- Multi-user: 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.
Analyst from Jupiter Research, Michael Gartenberg, labels the â€œSurfaceâ€ as a big breakthrough for Microsoft in terms of evolving the notion of what a personal computer is.
“The potential for the interface is huge,” said Matt Rosoff, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, an independent research firm. “Once you open it up to applications, what you can think of is limitless.”
Microsoft says that at the end of this year, you will be able to interact with Surface in hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues.
Pete Thompson, general manager of Microsoft Surface Computing, said: â€œConsumers now have an entirely new way to get the information they need, turning their everyday tasks into enjoyable and engaging experiences.
While Microsoft Surface is initially targeted for commercial use, the company hopes that this technology will someday make its way and become commonplace in homes as well.