"Picture a surface that can recognize physical objects from a paintbrush to a cell phone and allows hands-on, direct control of content such as photos, music and maps. Today at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer will unveil Microsoft Surface™, the first in a new category of surface computing products from Microsoft that breaks down traditional barriers between people and technology. Surface turns an ordinary tabletop into a vibrant, dynamic surface that provides effortless interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. Beginning at 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."Click here for a high-resolution version (544KB).
Okay, I admit to being intrigued by Microsoft Surface. You could dismiss this as just another bit of vapourware being shown off by Microsoft Research, but
(and might I add - unsurprisingly, considering Microsoft has dropped hints of touch-based computing over the past few years) it turns out that this product is very real and will be deployed by a number of partners by the end of the year (for example, "customers in T-Mobile retail stores might place different cell phones on Surface's interactive surface where product features, prices and phone plans would appear so they could be easily compared"
). As far as Zune Thoughts is concerned, Microsoft Surface could offer new ways for your Zune to interact with itself and other neighbouring Zune devices, as well as help the Zune's ailing Wi-Fi. ;)
Check out the press images and screen grabs above and below, and do stop by the Microsoft Surface web site
and Channel 10
to see what all the fuss is about. Direct interaction, multi-touch, multi-user, and object recognition? I'd say the real "wow" starts now.