Microsoft developing ‘Mobile Surface’

March 2, 2010

Microsoft developing 'Mobile Surface'The way we interact with technology is changing at a rapid pace all of a sudden. For decades we’ve been content with a keyboard and mouse combo, or on mobile phones a keypad and navigation buttons. But things are changing. As Microsoft’s Mobile Surface shows.

Nintendo brought motion-sensing controls to video games with the Wii, and Sony and Microsoft are now playing catchup with the Arc on the PS3 and Natal on the Xbox 360 respectively. Then there is the Nintendo DS with its touchscreen controls, and the Apple iPhone with its touchscreen and built-in accelerometer.

And then there is the iPad and the multitude of other touchscreen tablets seeking to change the face of computing and user interaction.

In many ways Microsoft has been at the forefront of these efforts. It was the first company to try and make tablet (or slate) computers mainstream. And for the last few years it’s been pushing its Microsoft Surface products; touchscreen tabletops that have been adopted by some retail outlets and hotel establishments.

But Microsoft Surface devices are expensive ($12,000 upwards) and bulky. And have been somewhat replaced by the mobile nature of tablets such as the iPad. So, instead Microsoft is developing Mobile Surface, a cheaper, more mobile (obviously) and more versatile use for the technology.

ZDNet discovered the development of the device on the Microsoft Research site, which states:

Our goal is to bring Microsoft Surface experience to mobile scenarios, and more importantly, to enable 3D interaction with mobile devices. We do research on how to transform any surface (e.g., a coffee table or a piece of paper) to Mobile Surface with a mobile device and a camera-projector system. Besides this, our work also includes how to get 3D object model in real-time, augmented reality and multiple-layer 3D information presentation.

And TechFlash recorded a video of Mobile Surface being demoed at a TechFest 2010 preview:

Mobile Surface essentially does the same thing Microsoft Surface does but for a fraction of the cost. It also does more, by adding a 3D element thanks to depth now being recognized in addition to touch. What real-world uses there would be for Mobile Surface and whether it will ever actually come to market in a big way remains to be seen, but the product is in development and Microsoft already has a working prototype. Which is promising.

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