What is Microsoft Surface?
• Project began in 2001
• Introduced in 2007
• A surface computing platform from
“Microsoft Surface represents a
fundamental change in the way we
interact with digital content. With
Surface, we can actually grab data
with our hands, and move information
between objects with natural gestures
and touch. Surface features a 30-inch
tabletop display whose unique abilities
allow for several people to work
independently or simultaneously. All
without using a mouse or a keyboard.”
What is surface computing?
A form of computing that offers “a natural way of
interacting with information,” rather than the
“traditional user interface.”
Direct Interaction: The ability to "grab" digital
information with hands - interacting with
touch/gesture, not with a mouse or keyboard.
Multi–Touch: The ability to recognize multiple points
of contact at the same time, not just one (Ex. one
finger, like with most touch screens), but dozens.
Multi–User: The Surface’s screen is horizontal,
allowing many people to come together around it
and experience a “collaborative, face–to–face
Object Recognition: Physical objects can be placed
on the Surface’s screen to “trigger different types of
digital responses” (Ex. cell phones, cameras, &
How is the Surface used?
• Wireless! Transfer pictures from camera to Surface and
cell phone. “Drag and drop virtual content to physical
• Digital interactive painting
• At a phone store? Place cell phone on the Surface and
get information, compare different phones, select service
plan, accessories, and pay at table!
• At a restaurant? View menu, order drinks and meal at
your table! It’s a durable surface you can eat off of
(withstands spills, etc.). Need separate checks? Split bill
at and pay at table.
• Play games and use the Internet.
• Watch television
• Jukebox! Browse music, make play lists.
•Billboard for advertising
How does it work?
• The Surface is not a touch-sensitive screen device… The screen itself is not electronic.
• The Surface uses multiple infrared cameras beneath the screen/table top to sense objects, physical
• The Surface “recognizes objects based on shape or by using domino-style identification (domino tags) on
the bottom of the objects.”
• This information is processed and displayed using “rear projection”.
(1) Screen: Diffuser -> ”multitouch" screen. Can process
multiple inputs and recognize objects by their shapes or
coded "domino" tags.
(2) Infrared: The ”machine vision" is aimed at the screen.
Once an object touches the tabletop -> the light reflects
back and is picked up by infrared cameras.
(3) CPU: Uses similar components as current desktop
computers -> Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM and a
256MB graphics card. Wireless communication -> WiFi
and Bluetooth antennas (future -> RFID). Operating
system -> modified version of Microsoft Vista.
(4) Projector: Uses a DLP light engine ( rear-projection
Who’s using the Surface today?
• Currently only commercially available and being used in the retail,
hospitality, automotive, banking and healthcare industries.
• Current customers are AT&T, T-Mobile, the Rio All Suite Hotel &
Casino in Las Vegas, Sheraton Hotels, Disney Innovations House in
California, Hotel 1000 in Seattle, Harrah’s Entertainment, and
Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.
Microsoft Surface’s Future…
• Surface will continue to be sold to and used by restaurants, retail,
leisure and public entertainment venues.
• According to Pete Thompson, Microsoft’s general manager for surface
computing, the Surface could potentially be available to the “broader
consumer market” as soon as 2010. Microsoft goal is for consumers test
the Surface in commercial settings, and then want them in their own
households. Microsoft wants to expand to the consumer market by
making a product people can use in their home environment (using
other surfaces like desks or making a version that hangs on the wall).
• Computer scientists hope to incorporate this kind of technology in
peoples’ daily lives… Future goals are to surround people with intelligent
surfaces (look up recipes on your kitchen counter or table, control TV
with coffee table, etc.)
• "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, and for that to happen, we really need
interfaces like this." - Jeff Han founder of Perceptive Pixel and NYU
• Will it catch on? Microsoft's “whiz-bang technologies” aren’t always the
most successful products… For example the smart watch, the Portable
Media Center, the Zune music player and the Tablet PC, have not
caught on like the company had hoped. Microsoft hopes “to strike a
chord with consumers” with the Surface and “expand beyond its
traditional Windows and Office software businesses.”
• $$$$$$$ Surface machines cost between $5,000 and $10,000,
but Microsoft hopes that as prices fall, the machine will find it’s way into
the consumer’s household. For it to be able to catch on with
“mainstream consumers,” the price will definitely need to come down.