Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Touch 'N Go Computing on the Surface

Imagine snapping a cute pic of baby Billy with your camera phone, plopping the phone down on the coffee table, and having the digital pic pop up automatically on the surface of the table. Sound ludicrous? Nope. It’s called surface computing, and it’s actually being deployed right now in a few select businesses.

Surface computing is a concept that you can’t truly grasp until you’ve actually seen it in action (visit www.microsoft.com/surface for some great demos). Essentially, the 30-inch “surface” can recognize objects that have an appropriate ID tag (similar to a barcode), like a WiFi digital camera, cell phone, or PDA, by simply placing the device atop the surface itself. Plop down a smartphone, and literally drag-and-drop images or tunes to/from it. You can also manipulate things like digital pictures: spread your fingers apart to blow up an image; or “virtually” rotate it just as you would if a physical print were actually laid out on the table.

The applications for surface computing technology in business are endless. For example, U.S. cell phone carrier T-Mobile has already expressed interest in the technology as a means to present different price plans and product features to customers. In Las Vegas, Harrah’s Entertainment has deployed surface computing in all of its hotel properties. For example, guests at Caesar’s Palace can take a virtual tour of PURE nightclub, or book Elton John tickets, right from the virtual concierge service in the Microsoft Surface.

But imagine having surface computing in the home! You arrive home after an event, plop your digital camera on the coffee table, and the photos you just snapped instantly spew onto the surface. Then, start arranging and rotating images to show the family when they get home. Upload pix to your photo sharing Website; or even send them via e-mail. And because the technology can recognize more than one point of contact at a time, you could swap data like tunes, video, or pix, between two or more devices connected on the surface.

Although we’re likely far away from actually using surface computing as a mainstream technology in the home, it’s definitely something to get excited about. The demos are worth taking a look at.


Lee_D said...

I can't tell you how totally cool I think that is!

Swampthing said...

This product is far from mobility that Microsoft is preaching.

IMO, Surface is a novelty item.

If the consumer is going to interact with barcode or a product they will use a mobile application called, qode, on their mobile web enabled device. All this in one click.

Navigation to physical objects for instant information is so much easier.

Why sit around a table?

Why type long URLs?

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi swampthing,

Thank you for your comments. I don't think Microsoft is touting the technology as a "mobile" application, but more so as an interactive one. As for sitting around the table, I think that's part of the beauty of the technology. In terms of applications within the home (that we might eventually see), it's a great way for families and friends to interact with one another. I don't see it as being so much an individual activity as a group one.

Mobile devices, as you mention, are definitely great for individual interaction. I agree with you there!