The Future of Computer interaction (again?)

Microsoft Surface is one of those products that instantly make you stand up and take notice. It’s an incredibly accessible, and natural piece of technology. Taking away the cumbersome pc box and building it into an aesthetically pleasing device.

This is a device containing a Vista based multi-touch screen interface built into a coffee table design. To add to that it’s also Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth enabled. It’s a design that in theory instantly appeals to the non technical – finally an easy to use device that doesn’t need a keyboard and mouse that doesn’t look like a computer. It’s a design paradigm that we’ve seen many times in countless movies – anything from star-trek, Tron and Minority Report. It’s something that could lend itself incredibly well to the creative process – enable a virtual pasteboard – allowing content to be sourced from any connected device, and manipulated in a natural way.

Because it’s a networked device through an incredibly intuitive interface there are wonderful implications for shared desktops. Imagine two people in different parts of the company looking at the same table, each manipulating items, drawings and graphics. For large creative agencies it certainly makes collaborative working a whole lot easier. It’s not necessarily easy because it wasn’t possible before – but is easier because it’s done through a far more natural interface – your fingertips directly interacting with what you see.

So – apart from collaborative working, or virtual pasteboards – microsoft has more ideas up it’s sleeve – examples in the video show off the capability of the system to identify and show connected devices that are placed on its surface – a mobile phone shop, a zune, and a glass in the demo’s. It’s going to be an incredibly versatile advertising medium. I highly doubt that the device can actually detect when a cup is placed on its surface, although the implications of detecting connected devices make things a lot easier than plugging in usb cables, or firewire leads.

One of it’s strongest benefits is that it can be a multi-user experience, there doens’t just have to be one person physically using it – touching it, as many people as can fit around it – can use it. This is certainly a product to keep an eye on, and I can’t wait to get my hands on one to test when the product starts coming out at the end of the year. I’ll keep the blog updated with more information as I find out about it.

There are a number of demo’s of this on YouTube so i’m going to post links below:-
Cnet Demo – examples of multi user touching and general applications
Surface computing – object interaction

Posted in MediaLab, Tech