Friday, June 01, 2007
Theres a new kid in town and its name is Surface.
Microsoft announces today this interacting table (a little like rec table and others)
First it will be put on the market mainly for restaurants,hotels, retail, but im thinking about music and entertainment markets will be a quick step.
"Surface computing is a major advancement that moves beyond the traditional user interface to a more natural
way of interacting with digital content. Microsoft Surface™, Microsoft Corp.’s fi rst commercially available
surface computer, breaks down the traditional barriers between people and technology to provide effortless
interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects instead of a
mouse and keyboard. Although customers will be able to interact with Surface in select restaurants, hotels, retail
establishments and public entertainment venues by the end of the year, the product has been years in the making
An Idea Inspired by Cross-Division Collaboration
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-specifi c 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.
Humble Beginnings on an IKEA Table
In early 2003, the team presented the idea to Bill Gates, Microsoft
chairman, in a group review. Gates instantly liked the idea and
encouraged the team to continue to develop their thinking. The virtual
team expanded, and within a month, through constant discussion and
brainstorming, the fi rst humble prototype was born and nicknamed T1.
The model was based on an IKEA table with a hole cut in the top and
a sheet of architect vellum used as a diffuser. The evolution of Surface
had begun. A variety of early applications were also built, including
pinball, a photo browser and a video puzzle. As more applications were
developed, the team saw the value of the surface computer beyond
simply gaming and began to favor those applications that took advantage
of the unique ability of Surface to recognize physical objects placed on the
table. The team was also beginning to realize that surface computing could be applied to a number of different
embodiments and form factors.
Over the next year, the team grew signifi cantly, including the addition of Nigel Keam, initially software
development lead and later architect for Surface, who was part of the development team eventually tasked with
taking the product from prototype to a shipping product. Surface prototypes, functionality and applications were
continually refi ned. More than 85 early prototypes were built for use by software developers, hardware developers
and user researchers.
“Tub” model prototype"
Surface website with videos, news and a press release