Major shift in user interface brought by Microsoft
May 30th, 2007

Thanks, Gabi.

Larry Larsen admits that Microsoft’s new surface computing product category exceeded his optimism about multi-touch computing systems, taking him by surprise. And it’s a most pleasant surprise.

In Microsoft’s recent press release it is said that the motivation behind researching surface computing consisted in breaking two kinds of traditional barriers: one between people and technology and one between the physical and the virtual worlds. Microsoft Surface is

[…] 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.

The product is still in its first stage of commercial development and will be available in hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues starting from the end of the year. As production costs will drop, the surface computing technology will enter mass-production and will be widely available within an industry already foreseen as one of the multibillion dollar category.

The great advantages brought by the new user interface technology are named to be:

Direct interaction. Users can actually ‘grab’ digital information with their hands, interacting with content by touch and gesture, without the use of a mouse or keyboard.

Multi-touch. Surface computing recognizes many points of contact simultaneously, not just from one finger like a typical touch-screen, but up to dozens of items at once.

Multi-user. The horizontal form factor makes it easy for several people to gather around surface computers together, providing a collaborative, face-to-face computing experience.

Object recognition. Users can place physical objects on the surface to trigger different types of digital responses, including the transfer of digital content.

More about all this in Microsoft’s press release and Surface demo section of their website.

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