Microsoft has just announced a new tabletop computer which, according to the company, will “change the way we interact with technology.” This table computer, named Microsoft Surface, utilizes a new intuitive interface that works without a traditional mouse or keyboard; thus, people will be able to interact with the content by just using their fingers. The Surface’s powerful computing and series of cameras will allow it to bridge the gap between the physical land the virtual, by sensing multiple touches accurately.
Users will be able to “grab” the information with their hands, interacting with the content by touch and gesture. Additionally, users will be able to place physical objects on the Surface to trigger different types of responses. In a product demo, Bill Gates demonstrated the the possibility of putting a cell phone down on the Surface to have the Surface instantly recognize it and access the stored information. Within seconds, Gates was able to pull photos from his phone and put them into view on the Surface, where then he was able to move, resize and even e-mail them.
The initial market for the Microsoft Surface will be commercial, and the possibilities appear endless. Imagine having this computer as part of the table at a restaurant. There will be no need for a waiter or waitress to actively attend to tables because patrons would be able to pull up menus and order directly. Also, object recognition would allow patrons to put their credit cards down on the table and pay, also using a slider to calculate proper tip, as demonstrated in the product demo.
Microsoft anticipates consumers to start seeing the Surface later this year and has announced Harrah’s Entertainment, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and T-Mobile as some of the first companies that will be utilizing these tables. Soon you will able to walk into a T-Mobile store, pick up a phone that you find interesting, put it down on the Surface, and product specs/prices/plans/etc will appear giving you all the information you might want about said phone. At Harrah’s, the Surface will be able to act as a digital concierge letting people buy concert tickets or make reservations at restaurants.
The Surface is expected to cost somewhere in the ballpark of $5,000 to $10,000.