A SEMINAR REPORT
In partial fulfillment for the award of the degree
COMPUTER SCIENCE & ENGINEERING
SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING
COCHIN UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE &
TECHNOLOGY KOCHI- 682022
Division of Computer Science, SOE 1
Division of Computer Engineering
School of Engineering
Cochin University of Science &
Certified that this is a bonafide record of the seminar work titled
of VII semester Computer Science & Engineering in the year 2010 in
partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Degree of
Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science & Engineering of Cochin
University of Science & Technology
Dr.David Peter S Deepa Paul
Head of the Division Seminar Guide
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I thank GOD almighty for guiding me throughout the seminar. I
would like to thank all those who have contributed to the completion of
the seminar and helped me with valuable suggestions for improvement.
I am extremely grateful to Dr. David Peter, HOD, Division of
Computer Science, for providing me with best facilities and atmosphere
for the creative work guidance and encouragement. I would like to thank
my coordinator, Mr.Sudheep Elayidom, Sr. Lecturer, Division of
Computer Science, and my guide Mrs. Deepa Paul , Lecturer ,
Division of Computer Science , SOE for all help and support extended
I thank all the Staff members of my college and my friends for
extending their cooperation during my seminar. Above all I would like to
thank my parents without whose blessings; I would not have been able to
accomplish my goal.
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The name Surface comes from "surface computing," and
Microsoft envisions the coffee-table machine as the first of many such
devices. Surface computing uses a blend of wireless protocols, special
machine-readable tags and shape recognition to seamlessly merge the real
and the virtual world — an idea the Milan team refers to as "blended
reality." The table can be built with a variety of wireless transceivers,
including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and (eventually) radio frequency
identification (RFID) and is designed to sync instantly with any device
that touches its surface. It supports multiple touch points – Microsoft says
"dozens and dozens" -- as well as multiple users simultaneously, so more
than one person could be using it at once, or one person could be doing
multiple tasks. The term "surface" describes how it's used. There is no
keyboard or mouse. All interactions with the computer are done via
touching the surface of the computer's screen with hands or brushes, or
via wireless interaction with devices such as smartphones, digital cameras
or Microsoft's Zune music player. Because of the cameras, the device can
also recognize physical objects; for instance credit cards or hotel
"loyalty" cards. For instance, a user could set a digital camera down on
the tabletop and wirelessly transfer pictures into folders on Surface's hard
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drive. Or setting a music player down would let a user drag songs from
his or her home music collection directly into the player, or between two
players, using a finger – or transfer mapping information for the location
of a restaurant where you just made reservations through a Surface
tabletop over to a smartphone just before you walk out the door.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER TITLE PAGE
LIST OF FIGURES ii
1. INTRODUCTION 1
2. WHAT IS SURFACE COMPUTING? 3
2.1 How It All Started 4
2.2 Hardware Design 5
2.3 From Prototype to Product 6
3. THE UNDERLYING TECHNOLOGY 7
3.1 Multi Touch User Interaction 7
3.2 Tangible User Interface 7
3.3 Multi User Interface 7
3.4 Object Recognition 7
3.5 Technology Behind it 7
4. MICROSOFT SURFACE OVERVIEW 10
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4.1 The Hardware 10
4.1.1 Screen 11
4.1.2 Infra Red 11
4.1.3 CPU 11
4.1.4 Projector 11
4.2 System Software 13
4.3 Working 14
5. FEATURES 15
5.1 Multi Touch Display 15
5.2 Perceptive Pixel 16
6. APPLICATIONS 18
6.1 Water 18
6.2 Video Puzzle 19
6.3 Paint 20
6.4 Music 21
6.5 Photos 22
6.6 Dining 23
6.7 Minor Reports of Surface Computers 24
7. FUTURE SCOPE AND CONCLUSION 25
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LIST OF FIGURES
Fig 2.1 Surface Computing in 2003 5
Fig 2.2 Microsoft Surface Today 5
Fig 3.1 Total Internal Reflection Technology 8
Fig 4.1 Microsoft Surface Hardware 11
Fig 5.1 Multi Touch 15
Fig 5.2 Demo of Perceptive Pixels Multi Touch 17
Fig 6.1 Application In Microsoft Surface 18
Fig 6.2 Video Puzzle 19
Fig 6.3 Paint Application 20
Fig 6.4 Music Application In Microsoft Surface 21
Fig 6.5 Photos 22
Fig 6.6 Dining 23
Fig 6.7 Apple ROSIE Surface Computer 24
Fig 6.8 Future Application of Surface Computer 25
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Surface computing is the term for the use of a specialized computer GUI in which
traditional GUI elements are replaced by intuitive, everyday objects. Instead of a
keyboard and mouse, the user interacts directly with a touch-sensitive screen. It has
been said that this more closely replicates the familiar hands-on experience of
everyday object manipulation
Over the past couple of years, a new class of interactive device has begun to
emerge, what can best be described as “surface computing”. Two examples are
illustrated in this report. They are-
• Surface Table top
• Perceptive Pixel
The Surface table top typically incorporates a rear-projection display coupled
with an optical system to capture touch points by detecting shadows from below.
Different approaches to doing the detection have been used, but most employ some
form of IR illumination coupled with IR cameras. With today’s camera and signal-
processing capability, reliable responsive and accurate multi-touch capabilities can be
The multitouch pioneer and his company, Perceptive Pixel, have devoted the
better part of two years to building an entirely new multitouch framework from the
ground up. Instead of simply mapping multitouch technology to familiar interfaces
and devices, Han's goal is far more sweeping: To use the technology as a foundation
for an entirely new operating system.
Because they are new to most, the tendency in seeing these systems is to
assume that they are all more-or-less alike. Well, in a way that is true. But on the
other hand, that is perhaps no more so than to say that all ICs are more-or-less alike,
since they are black plastic things with feet like centipedes which contain a bunch of
transistors and other stuff. In short, the more that you know, the more you can
differentiate. But even looking at the two systems in the photo, there is evidence of
really significant difference.
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The really significant difference is that one is vertical and the other is
horizontal. Why is this significant? Well, this is one of those questions perhaps best
answered by a child in kindergarten. They will tell you that if you put a glass of water
on the vertical one, it will fall to the floor, leading to a bout of sitting in the corner. On
the other hand, it is perfectly safe to put things on a table. They will stay there.
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WHAT IS SURFACE COMPUTING?
For years engineers and computer technicians have looked for a better way for
people to communicate with their computers. Keyboards while feeling natural to
many of us has advanced very little beyond the typewriters which have been around
for well over a hundred years and though the mouse is a step above that it still takes
practice for someone who has never used one to become used to the idea of moving
the mouse with it and after years of using a computer many older people still have
trouble with the concepts of double clicking, right clicking, dragging, dropping and
other techniques that can seem simple to more advanced computer users.
The most recent solution, and one that seems likely to stick is that of surface
computing. Surface computing at its most basic is an attempt to make the use of a
computer better match the way we interact with other things in our environments as
well as better interacting with those things and allowing for far less time thinking
about how we interact with our computers so more energy can be put into how we use
The most common and popular type of surface computing is that of touch screen
monitors of the type that can be found on many modern phones. These are also
common in many businesses where untrained workers are expected to use a computer.
Until recently though these touch screen monitors were really little more than a
replacement of the mouse. You could still only point at one thing at a time, and it
wasn't even as good as a mouse because you can't right click or highlight things
without using a keyboard.
More recently though both Microsoft and Apple have come up with new ways
to use surface computing.Microsoft's plan is a device called Microsoft Surface which
takes the form of a large table and would be used in places such as hotels and casinos
or board rooms. The key difference between this and other similar devices is the multi
touch system. This allows users to use both hands to manipulate things such as
photos, as well as the use of hand gestures and even physical gestures. Other features
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on the Microsoft surface allows for wireless communicates between devices so
things like phones, cameras and laptops can sync with the table and move data
between them effortlessly.
Surface computing is a powerful movement. In fact, it’s as significant as the
move from DOS [Disk Operating System] to GUI [Graphic User Interface]. Our
research shows that many people are intimidated and isolated by today’s technology.
Many features available in mobile phones, PCs and other electronic devices like
digital cameras aren’t even used because the technology is intimidating. Surface
computing breaks down those traditional barriers to technology so that people can
interact with all kinds of digital content in a more intuitive, engaging and efficient
manner. It’s about technology adapting to the user, rather than the user adapting to the
technology. Bringing this kind of natural user interface innovation to the computing
space is what Surface Computing is all about.
2.1 How It All Started
In 2001, Stevie Bathiche of Microsoft Hardware and Andy Wilson of Microsoft
Research began working together on various projects that took advantage of their
complementary expertise in the areas of hardware and software. In one of their regular
brainstorm sessions, they started talking about an idea for an interactive table that
could understand the manipulation of physical pieces. Although there were related
efforts happening in academia, Bathiche and Wilson saw the need for a product where
the interaction was richer and more intuitive, and at the same time practical for
everyone to use. This conversation was the beginning of an idea that would later
result in the development of Surface, and over the course of the following year,
various people at Microsoft involved in developing new product concepts, including
the gaming-specific PlayTable, continued to think through the possibilities and
feasibility of the project. Then in October 2001 a virtual team was formed to fully
pursue bringing the idea to the next stage of development; Bathiche and Wilson were
key members of the team.
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Fig 2.1 Surface Computing In 2003(T1 Prototype)
2.2 Hardware Design:
By late 2004, the software development platform of Surface was well-
established and attention turned to the form factor. A number of different
experimental prototypes were built including “the tub” model, which was encased in
a rounded plastic shell, a desk-height model with a square top and cloth-covered
sides, and even a bar-height model that could be used while standing. After extensive
testing and user research, the final hardware design (seen today) was finalized in
2005. Also in 2005, Wilson and Bathiche introduced the concept of surface
computing in a paper for Gates’ twice-yearly “Think Week,” a time Gates takes to
evaluate new ideas and technologies for the company.
Fig 2.2 Microsoft Surface today
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2.3 From Prototype to Product:
The next phase of the development of Surface focused on continuing the
journey from concept to product. Although much of what would later ship as Surface
was determined, there was significant work to be done to develop a market-ready
product that could be scaled to mass production.
In early 2006, Pete Thompson joined the group as general manager, tasked with
driving end-to-end business and growing development and marketing. Under his
leadership, the group has grown to more than 100 employees. Today Surface has
become the market-ready product once only envisioned by the group, a 30-inch
display in a table like form factor that’s easy for individuals or small groups to use
collaboratively. The sleek, translucent surface lets people engage with Surface using
touch, natural hand gestures and physical objects placed on the surface. Years in the
making, Microsoft Surface is now poised to transform the way people shop, dine,
entertain and live. This is a radically different user-interface experience than anything
and it’s really a testament to the innovation that comes from marrying brilliance and
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THE UNDERLYING TECHNOLOGY
The Core features of Surface Computer consists of :
3.1 Multi-touch user interaction- The horizontal form factor makes it easy for
several people to gather around surface computers together, providing a collaborative,
3.2 Tangible user interface- Surface aims to provide physical form of digital
i) One can draw on surface with any physical paint brush.
ii) placed on the Surface, squares of glass can play videos (puzzle).
Hand gestures are preferred to physical instruments.
3.3 Multi-user Interface- Users can place physical objects on the surface to trigger
different types of digital responses. They are identified by their shapes or embedded
ID tags. Surface acts as a mediator between devices(e.g. data exchange between
digital camera and Mobile phone).
3.4 Object Recognition- Surface also features the ability to recognize physical
objects that have identification tags similar to bar codes. This means that when a
customer simply sets a wine glass on the surface of a table, a restaurant could provide
them with information about the wine they’re ordering, pictures of the vineyard it
came from and suggested food pairings tailored to that evening’s menu.
3.5 Technology behind it
The main idea behind the surface technology is to let people interact with their digital
content in a much more new and innovative way which is quite different from the
traditional ways. The concept is to give digital content a new dimension where it is
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not restricted to your mobile phones or television sets rather has the ability to
interact with you physically.
Microsoft Surface uses cameras to sense objects, hand gestures and touch.
This user input is then processed and displayed using rear projection. Specifically:
• Microsoft Surface uses a rear projection system which displays an image onto
the underside of a thin diffuser.
• Objects such as fingers are visible through the diffuser by series of infrared–
sensitive cameras, positioned underneath the display.
• An image processing system processes the camera images to detect fingers,
custom tags and other objects such as paint brushes when touching the display.
• The objects recognized with this system are reported to applications running in
the computer so that they can react to object shapes, 2D tags, movement and
One of the key components of surface computing is a "multitouch" screen. It is
an idea that has been floating around the research community since the 1980s and is
swiftly becoming a hip new product interface — Apple's new iPhone has multitouch
scrolling and picture manipulation. Multitouch devices accept input from multiple
fingers and multiple users simultaneously, allowing for complex gestures, including
grabbing, stretching, swiveling and sliding virtual objects across the table. And the
Surface has the added advantage of a horizontal screen, so several people can gather
around and use it together. Its interface is the exact opposite of the personal computer:
cooperative, hands-on, and designed for public spaces.
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Fig 3.1 Total Internal Reflection Technology
• Uses IR cameras to sense objects, hand gestures and finger touch.
• Uses a Rare projection system which displays on to the underside of a thin diffuser.
• Objects such as fingers are visible through the diffuser by series of IR
cameras, positioned underneath the display.
• An image processing system processes the camera images to detect the fringes.
• Objects recognized are reported to the applications running in the computer sothat
they can react to objects shape,movement and touch of the finger.
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MICROSOFT SURFACE OVERVIEW
Microsoft Surface turns an ordinary tabletop into a vibrant, interactive
computing experience. The product provides effortless interaction with digital content
through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. In Essence, it’s a surface that
comes to life for exploring, learning, sharing, creating, buying and much more.
Currently available in select in restaurants, hotels, retail establishments and public
entertainment venues, this experience will transform the way people shop, dine,
entertain and live.
Surface is a 30‐inch display in a table‐like form factor that’s easy for
individuals or small groups to interact with in a way that feels familiar, just like in the
real world. Surface can simultaneously recognize dozens and dozens of movements
such as touch, gestures and actual unique objects that have identification tags similar
to bar codes. Surface computing breaks down traditional barriers between people and
technology, changing the way people interact with all kinds of everyday content, from
photos to maps to menus. The intuitive user interface works without a traditional
mouse or keyboard, allowing people to interact with content and information by using
their hands and natural movements. Users are able to access information either on
their own or collaboratively with their friends and families, unlike any experience
4.1 The Hardware:
Essentially, Microsoft Surface is a computer embedded in a medium-sized
table, with a large, flat display on top that is touch-sensitive. The software reacts to
the touch of any object, including human fingers, and can track the presence and
movement of many different objects at the same time. In addition to sensing touch,
the Microsoft Surface unit can detect objects that are labelled with small "domino"
stickers, and in the future, it will identify devices via radio-frequency identification
The demonstration unit I used was housed in an attractive glass table about
three feet high, with a solid base that hides a fairly standard computer equipped with
an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, an AMI BIOS, 2 GB of RAM, and Windows Vista.
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The team lead would not divulge which graphics card was inside, but they said that
it was a moderately powerful graphics card from either AMD/ATI or NVIDIA.
Fig 4.1Microsoft Surface Hardware
(1) Screen: A diffuser turns the Surface's acrylic tabletop into a large horizontal
"multitouch" screen, capable of processing multiple inputs from multiple users. The
Surface can also recognize objects by their shapes or by reading coded "domino" tags.
(2) Infrared: Surface's "machine vision" operates in the near-infrared spectrum, using
an 850-nanometer-wavelength LED light source aimed at the screen. When objects
touch the tabletop, the light reflects back and is picked up by multiple infrared cameras
with a net resolution of 1280 x 960.
(3) CPU: Surface uses many of the same components found in everyday desktop
computers — a Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM and a 256MB graphics card.
Wireless communication with devices on the surface is handled using WiFi and
Bluetooth antennas (future versions may incorporate RFID or Near Field
Communications). The underlying operating system is a modified version of Microsoft
(4) Projector: Microsoft's Surface uses the same DLP light engine found in many
rearprojection HDTVs. The footprint of the visible light screen, at 1024 x 768 pixels, is
actually smaller than the invisible overlapping infrared projection to allow for better
recognition at the edges of the screen.
The display screen is a 4:3 rear-projected DLP display measuring 30 inches
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diagonally. The screen resolution is a relatively modest 1024x768, but the touch
detection system had an effective resolution of 1280x960. Unlike the screen resolution,
which for the time being is constant, the touch resolution varies according to the size of
the screen used—it is designed to work at a resolution of 48 dots per inch. The top
layer also works as a diffuser, making the display clearly visible at any angle.
Unlike most touch screens, Surface does not use heat or pressure sensors to
indicate when someone has touched the screen. Instead, five tiny cameras take
snapshots of the surface many times a second, similar to how an optical mouse works,
but on a larger scale. This allows Surface to capture many simultaneous touches and
makes it easier to track movement, although the disadvantage is that the system cannot
(at the moment) sense pressure.
Five cameras mounted beneath the table read objects and touches on the acrylic
surface above, which is flooded with near-infrared light to make such touches easier to
pick out. The cameras can read a nearly infinite number of simultaneous touches and
are limited only by processing power. Right now, Surface is optimized for 52 touches,
or enough for four people to use all 10 fingers at once and still have 12 objects sitting
on the table. The unit is rugged and designed to take all kinds of abuse. Senior director
of marketing Mark Bolger demonstrated this quite dramatically by slamming his hand
onto the top of the screen as hard as he could—it made a loud thump, but the unit itself
didn't move. The screen is also water resistant. At an earlier demonstration, a skeptical
reporter tested this by pouring his drink all over the device. Microsoft has designed the
unit to put up with this kind of punishment because it envisions Surface being used in
environments such as restaurants where hard impacts and spills are always on the
The choice of 4:3 screen was, according to Nigel Keam, mostly a function of
the availability of light engines (projectors) when the project began. Testing and user
feedback have shown that the 4:3 ratio works well, and the addition of a slight amount
of extra acrylic on each side leaves the table looking like it has normal dimensions.
Built-in wireless and Bluetooth round out the hardware capabilities of Surface. A
Bluetooth keyboard with a built-in track pad is available to diagnose problems with the
unit, although for regular use it is not required.
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4.2 System software:
Microsoft Surface works much like another Microsoft product, Media Centre,
in that the main application runs on top of Windows and takes over the whole screen.
Like Media Centre, it is designed to be difficult to exit the application without using a
mouse or keyboard. I asked if the Surface team considered allowing the user to drop
into Windows mode while retaining the touch functionality, but they felt that the
product worked better if it stayed in this mode.
The various demonstration programs are accessed from a main menu, which
scrolls left and right in an endless loop. The user moves the selection by swiping back
and forth and selects an application with a single tap. This works reasonably well and
feels quite natural. When an application is selected, a swirly purple ring appears in the
centre of the screen to indicate that the program is loading.
There were eight different programs available: Water, Video Puzzle, Paint,
Music, Photos, Casino, a T-Mobile demonstration app, and Dining. Much of the
software was written using Microsoft's WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation),
though the XNA development toolkit, a framework originally created for writing PC
and Xbox 360 games, is also supported. XNA allows programmers to use managed
code written in C# to manipulate various DirectX features; managed code frees the
programmer from worrying about handling memory, allocating and discarding memory
automatically. This approach has allowed Microsoft and its partners to write
impressive-looking demonstration programs for Surface more quickly than would
otherwise be possible.
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Surface features a touch interface, but it doesn't use a touch screen. Instead, five
separate cameras are used to record motion on the table's surface. Five cameras were
needed because of field angle issues. In order to get the table as low as it is, five
cameras are used so that each one can have a small field of view. That translates into
better resolution and speed (measured in pixels/second) than a single camera with an
exceptionally wide-angle view of the table surface. The five cameras are near-
infrared devices, but that's not because they are trying to read heat signatures from
fingertips (or other body parts) on the table. Instead, it's because the entire surface of
Surface is bathed in light; by illuminating the top of the table, the cameras can easily
see when things are placed on it. Shining colored light across the surface of the table
would spoil the effect that Microsoft wants, so near-infrared light is used for invisible
illumination. Those cameras, which are located below the acrylic surface of the table,
can read a nearly infinite number of simultaneous touches, and are limited only by
processing power. Keam says that Surface has been optimized for 52 touches enough
for four people to use all 10 fingers at once and still have 12 objects sitting on the
table. In addition to recognizing fingers, Surface can recognize inanimate objects.
Microsoft has developed a 3/4" square tag called a "domino" that can be attached to
objects so that Surface can interact with them on the fly. Instead of relying on RFID,
the domino tag uses dots to encode its information. There is a single dot in the center
of the tag, three dots on one side for orientation, and space for eight more dots that are
read as data. Essentially, it's a one-byte data tag.
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5.1 Multi-touch display. The Microsoft Surface display is capable of multi-touch
interaction, recognizing dozens and dozens of touches simultaneously, including
fingers, hands, gestures and objects.
Fig 5.1 Multi Touch
Perceptive Pixel’s touch screens work via frustrated total internal reflection
Technology. The acrylic surface has infrared LEDs on the edges. When undisturbed,
the light passes along predictable paths, a process known as total internal reflection.
When one or more fingers touch the surface, the light diffuses at the contact points,
changing the internal-reflection pathways. A camera below the surface captures the
diffusion and sends the information to image-processing software, which translates it
into a command.
Multitouch technology has been around since early research at the University of
Toronto in 1982. With multitouch devices, one or more users activate advanced
functions by touching a screen in more than one place at the same time. For example,
a person could expand or shrink images by pinching the edges of the display window
with the thumb and forefinger of one hand, explained Microsoft principal researcher
Bill Buxton.Users could also, while in contact with a point on a map, touch other
controls to make the system display information, such as nearby restaurants, about the
area surrounding the indicated location. This is accomplished much as it has been in
PCs for years. For example, desktop users can press the Alt and Tab keys at the same
time to toggle between open windows. The OS translates the simultaneous keystrokes
into a single command. Industry observers say tabletop computers are likely to
become a popular multitouchscreen implementation. Because multiple users at
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different Positions will work with tabletop systems, the computers must be able to
display material in different parts of the screen and move controls around to keep
them from blocking reoriented content. The systems can determine users’ locations
based on the positions from which they input commands or data. The computers then
orient their displays toward the tabletop edge
nearest to the user. Vendors are beginning to release commercial multitouch systems.
For example, Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories’ Diamond Touch table,
which includes a developer’s kit, can be used for small-group collaboration.
Horizontal orientation. The 30-inch display in a table-sized form factor
allows users to share, explore and create experiences together, enabling a truly
collaborative computing experience.
Dimensions. Microsoft Surface is 22 inches high, 21 inches deep and 42
Materials. The Microsoft Surface tabletop is acrylic, and its interior frame is
5.2 Perceptive Pixel
Computer scientists see technologies such as surface computing and
multitouch as the key to a new era of ubiquitous computing, where processing power
is embedded in almost every object and everything is interactive. Last year, New
York University professor Jeff Han launched a company called Perceptive Pixel,
which builds six-figureplus custom multitouch drafting tables and enormous
interactive wall displays for large corporations and military situation rooms. "I firmly
believe that in the near future, we will have wallpaper displays in every hallway, in
every desk. Every surface will be a point of interaction with a computer," Han says,
"and for that to happen, we really need interfaces like this."
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Fig 5.2 Demo of Perceptive Pixel’s Multi-touch
The display’s surface is a six-millimeter-thick piece of clear acrylic, with infrared
LEDs on the edges. Left undisturbed, the light passes along predictable paths within
the acrylic, a process diffuses at the contact point, causing the acrylic’s internal-
reflection pathways to change. A camera below the surface captures the diffusion and
sends the information to image-processing software, which can read multiple touches
simultaneously and translate them into a command. The system sends information
about screen touches to applications via the lightweight Open Sound Control protocol,
utilized for network-based communication between computers and multimedia
devices, and User Datagram Protocol data transport technology. The applications then
take the appropriate actions. Perceptive Pixel, which has built a prototype that
measures 36 _ 27 inches, is still working on applications for its displays, Han noted.
They could be used for collaborative work on design-related and other projects,
perhaps in place of interactive whiteboards, he said.
Short-term success for a technology can be measured by how much attention a
product gathers when it is new. Long-term success is measured by how effectively
that product disappears into the everyday routine of life. Surface computing has
enormous potential to do both — it is a splashy new computer interface, surrounded
by hype, but it is also, quite literally, furniture. It is a technology in its infancy, where
even the engineers behind it can't predict its full impact; but the possibilities are
everywhere, underhand and underfoot — on every surface imaginable
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Water is used as an "attract mode" for the Surface desktop, and it is certainly
attractive. The default background picture is an image of smooth pebbles that appear
to sit beneath a thin layer of rippling water. By itself, the water moves as if it were
being disturbed by a light breeze, but it is when you touch the screen that it becomes
more interesting than just another screensaver.
Fig 6.1 Application in Microsoft Surface
Tapping anywhere on the surface causes larger ripples to spread out from the point
of contact. Many people can tap at the same time, making an effect similar to a
rainstorm. But by far the most fun is when you sweep your whole hand across and
cause waves to bounce back and forth. The physics of the water simulation is not
perfect: the ripples never get above a certain intensity, and there is no way to simulate
diffraction. However, the overall effect is strangely compelling and is certainly a good
way to introduce people to Surface.
One interesting feature of Water is that if you take any object (the team used a regular
stove dial) and stick an identification sticker on the bottom, the program will switch
background pictures whenever you turn the dial.
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6.2 Video Puzzle
Video Puzzle showcases the power of the little identification tags mentioned
above. The tags consist of a pattern of variously-sized dots; Keam mentioned that the
dots currently represent an 8-bit code (256 permutations) but that 128-bit tags were in
the works. The neat thing about the tags is that they can be very nearly transparent
and the system will still pick them up. Not only can the tags transmit numerical
information, but the geometrical arrangement of the dots means that Surface can also
tell, to a high degree of accuracy, how much the tag (and therefore the object) has
In Video Puzzle, these virtually invisible tags are placed upon small squares of
glass. When the pieces of glass are put on the table, the screen starts playing video
clips underneath each one. Because the video moves whenever you move the squares,
it creates the illusion that the glass itself is displaying the video, which looks very
futuristic. As you move the squares around, you quickly realize that the video clips
are all pieces of a larger video. Flipping the glass squares over inverts the video
playing underneath,making completing the puzzle even more of a challenge.
When you complete the puzzle correctly, the system senses the achievement,
congratulates you, and shows you the time taken to finish. According to Mark Bolger,
the current record for finishing when the pieces are fully randomized is 1 minute and
53 seconds. On my first attempt, I finished in just over 2 minutes, but the squares
were all right side up to begin with (Microsoft is nice to journalists, it seems).
Fig 6.2 Video Puzzle
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Paint programs have been a natural demonstration application for new
platforms ever since MacPaint graced the first Macintosh back in 1984. Surface’s
paint program is even lighter on features than MacPaint was, but the natural user
interface makes up for this deficiency.
Fig 6.3 Paint Application
There are three draw modes that can be toggled by touching an icon on the bottom of
the toolbar: brush, paint, and reveal, the last of which is kind of a negative brush that
shows a background bitmap underneath. The brush mode is a bit spotty and tends to
skip, but the paint mode is smooth and fun. You can draw using one finger, all your
fingers at once (good for drawing hair), the palm of your hand, or using any natural
object such as a regular paintbrush. Using the program is like having a flashback to
finger painting back in kindergarten (minus the mess), and certainly children will
have tons of fun with this kind of application.
That said, having this great touch interface absolutely cries out for a more
fullfeatured program, something that can mix colors (like Microsoft's own paint
program that comes with the Tablet PC version of Windows) and play around with
textures and natural materials. I immediately thought of Fractal Design Painter and
how much fun it would be with this interface. Of course, real digital artists have been
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using advanced pressure sensitive graphics tablets for years, and Surface is not
aimed at replacing this kind of workflow. Still, a more full-featured Paint program
would be nice to have, and Keam mentioned that the team is still deciding whether or
not to add features to Paint or instead take an existing paint program and rework it for
The Music application works like a virtual jukebox, displaying music
arranged by album and allowing the user to flip over albums, select songs, and drag
them to the "Now Playing" section. The album browser works a bit like Apple’s
Cover Flow, although many albums are visible at once without scrolling.
Fig 6.4 Music Application in Microsoft Surface
In addition to playing music that is already stored on the unit's hard drive, Music can
also transfer songs from portable music players. Mark Bolger demonstrated this by
placing two Zunes on top of the Surface and using the wireless connection to drag and
drop songs between the units, the song list, and the Now Playing section. I mentioned
to the team that this was the first time I had ever seen even one Zune "in the wild,"
and they joked that Microsoft headquarters didn’t really count as being in the wild.
Bolger noted that sharing songs in this manner would be "subject to DRM restrictions,
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Fig 6.5 Photos Application
Sharing photos is a much more unrestricted activity, thanks to the fact that
the consumer is also the creator of the content, and the photo album application
reflected this freedom. By simply placing a Bluetooth-equipped digital camera on the
tabletop, Surface was able to import the photos and place them in a pile on the screen,
which Bolger verified by taking a picture of Cindy, my Microsoft PR contact who
was sitting in the next chair. Most of the other photos were pictures of Microsoft
employees' children; Bolger joked that only the cutest kids were allowed to be put in
Photos are arranged into albums that look like piles. Tapping the pile once
spreads it around the screen and from there you can drag, rotate, and resize the images
to your heart’s content. Since Surface can detect many touches at the same time,
multiple people can sort and resize pictures, which could potentially turn a tedious job
into a fun family affair. The program can also apparently sort photos into stacks by
using metadata tags, although I did not see this feature demonstrated.
Not only pictures but full-motion videos can be viewed in this way; tapping the
video once starts the playback, and it can be smoothly resized and rotated while it
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Fig 6.6 Hotel Enabled With Surface
The application allows diners to preview the entire menu by choosing a
category (drinks, appetizers, main courses, and so forth) and then scrolling left and
right through the available options. Items can be dragged into a central "ordering
area" and when everyone is satisfied with their choices, a single tap on the Order
button sends the list out to the waiter. This could potentially save service people huge
chunks of time and would be very useful for busy restaurants. The software can
display the daily specials, and for regular customers with their own identification
cards, it could display a list of "favorites" to make ordering even easier. Combine this
with entertainment activities for the kids (perhaps Paint?) and you can see how many
restaurants could view this as a compelling application
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6.7 Minor Reports of Surface Computers
The Rosie Surface Computer is an Apple based surface computer. It was created by
Savant home A/V computer and uses a 40 inch coffee table running apple technology
to create integration between computing and everyday tasks. The Savant surface is an
evolutionary technology that can download and share photos from digital cameras,
and also play music, movies, TV shows right onto its surface and accomplish
complete home control all from within one elegant interface. Savant plans to offer the
ROSIE Surface in a number of different furniture styles ranging from contemporary to
traditional.The hardware specs havent been released yet. However some features that
have been verified are:
Interaction with iTunes multimedia content, digital cameras, IP network
cameras, business card readers, and many more digital devices on the horizon.
Touchscreens readily created & customized via RacePoint Blueprint design
Customizable Hot Launch Buttons.
Custom tailored to suit any décor with the ROSIE Surface Kit.
Fig 6.7 APPLE Rosie surface computer
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FUTURE SCOPE AND CONCLUSION
Although surface computing is a new experience for consumers, over
timeMicrosoft believes there will be a whole range of surface computing devices and
the technology will become pervasive in people’s lives in a variety of environments.
As form factors continue to evolve, surface computing will be in any number
of environments— schools, businesses, homes — and in any number of form factors
— part of the countertop, the wall or the refrigerator.
Some people will look at Surface and claim that it does nothing that hasn't
been tried before: computers with touch screens have been around for years and have
already found niches in ATMs, ticket ordering machines, and restaurant point-of-sale
This view largely misses the point of the product. Like most projects, Surface
takes existing technology and presents it in a new way. It isn't simply a touch screen,
but more of a touch-grab-move-slide-resize-and-place-objects-on-top-of-screen, and
this opens up new possibilities that weren't there before.
Fig 7.1Future Applications Of Surface Computing
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Playing with the unit felt a bit like being in the movie Minority Report (in a
good way), but it also felt like a more natural and enjoyable method of doing certain
computing tasks. Sharing and looking at family photos, for example, is more fun on
Surface than on any other device. The retail applications, particularly the dining
application, show how businesses could use the technology to really stand out from
competitors, though one wonders how diners will react when their table locks up and
needs a reboot.
Many people who viewed the early Xerox PARC demonstrations of the GUI
came out of that experience knowing that every computer would work that way
someday, and they were right. Playing with Surface, one gets the sense that although
not every computer will work like this someday, many of them will. More
importantly, computers running Surface-like software will end up in places that never
had computers before, and the potential applications are exciting. Imagine a
multiplayer real-time strategy game where you and another human opponent can
move units around as quickly as you can point to them. Or perhaps an educational
environment, where university students could assemble and disassemble anything
from molecules to skyscrapers quickly and easily.
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