It really is cool, on CSI: Miami, when they toss a bunch of evidence onto a table, and then use what looks like a billion dollar vertical, translucent touch screen to manipulate what they have into quick “what if” scenarios. It’s really, really cool. Too bad such technology is not available. Or, is it?
Microsoft Surface user manipulates photos.
For the past several years, Microsoft has been working on an interactive surface similar –in many ways- to the screen used by CBS’ Hummer-driving Miami CSIs. Microsoft Surface comes in a 30-inch diagonal screen that uses rear projection and infrared cameras to recognize multiple, simultaneous hand gestures and objects laid onto the surface.
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Key features, according to Microsoft:
- Direct Interaction: Users can manipulate on-screen images, text, and any other elements, by touching and gesturing, without ever using a mouse or keyboard.
- Multi–Touch: Surface responds to many points of contact simultaneously. So, you can touch the screen with all your fingers, elbows, or whatever, activating and manipulating dozens of points on the screen at once.
- Multi–User: The tabletop, horizontal form factor allows several people to gather around Microsoft Surface at once, providing a very collaborative, interactive, face–to–face workspace.
- Object Recognition: Cameras within Surface recognize objects placed on the display. Optical recognition allows Surface to respond appropriately to different objects. In the future, this will include transfering digital content between the Surface and devices.
Microsoft Surface demonstration.
Currently, Surface is only available for large leisure, entertainment, and retail companies. Small business applications, and possibly crime lab applications, will be available in the future. Microsoft expects to have Surface available to consumers, sometime between 2011 and 2013. Microsoft has a software development kit, which, once available to the public, will surely lead to some creative and aggressive developers releasing some incredible applications for lawyers, doctors, and crime labs. Microsoft packages and makes available its own applications for use by development partners, including “virtual concierge”, “music”, and “photo”. So, once the real Miami CSIs have this technology in hand, they’ll also be able to order drinks from the same display. Just kidding, I think.
Microsoft Surface displays info for AT&T phone placed on the display.
In April, Microsoft placed several Surface interfaces in select AT&T retail outlets in New York, San Antonio, Atlanta and the San Francisco Bay area. The public can interact with the displays in these locations, which display information about a phone when the users places it on the Surface tabletop. Later this year, Microsoft plans to have applications available through their other partners, Harrah’s Entertainment, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, and T–Mobile USA.
Children “paint” on Microsoft Surface.
For more information, check out the Microsoft Surface info page.
All images: Newscom.