Monday, September 17, 2007

Microsoft Surface - This is Cool!

On Saturday, Max and I had a private briefing of Microsoft Surface. First off, I just have to say this is a bit like Telepresence - you have to see it and experience it to believe and understand what it's all about. You can get a good sense of this from the Surface website, but sitting down and seeing it first hand is something else.

Most people haven't seen Surface before, so if that's you, I think you'll really enjoy this post.

Toronto was the second stop on their North America media tour - following New York, and I suspect Max is the first teenager in Canada to have had a private briefing, so he's a pretty happy guy. Surface has been public for several months, but commercial deployments are another story. This particular demo was held at the downtown Sheraton Hotel, which is part of the Starwood hotel/resort operation. Am not sure just how far along they are in offering Surface to their guests, but we got a pretty good taste of what it might look like if they did.

I'll let the pictures and video clip below tell the rest of the story. I have no doubt Surface will find a home for some pretty cool commercial settings like hotels, but we also got a glimpse about how this will become the uber-cool coffee table of the future in your smart home. The mind boggles.....

Surface is a tabletop console, and it's touch-based. Just think of it as a giant iPhone - but much more powerful. This example is a restaurant, where all the menu items can be viewed, and you can place your order directly from the console. That's just the beginning...


Now it's time to divvy up the bill. Kyle and Max are going Dutch, and they're now going to drag each item that's theirs into their own spaces so they can figure out how much each of them owes to pay the bill.


Max's portion is $14.63. He just puts his credit card face up on the console. The back of his credit card is tagged to interface with Surface, and presto, the bill is paid on the spot. Of course, this cuts down on interacting with the waiter, but for the 2.0 crowd, how can you not like this?


Let's switch to the fun stuff - home entertainment. Check this out - the video puzzle. This is a car racing video, and the image is broken up over a grid of plastic tiles. They're all tagged, and each one shows a portion of the video clip. The challenge is to assemble all the tiles in the right order - just like a puzzle - to get the complete image as fast as you can (there's a timer on the console to show how long it takes). Lots of ways to play this game - 1 on 1, or kids vs. parents, etc. So, just like doing your daily crossword puzzle, imagine subscribing to a service where you get a daily video puzzle to solve. It's not hard to see how Surface opens up a whole new world of entertainment possibilities. You'll see even more in the video clip down below.


And of course, the Paint program. Just pick your colors and doodle away. The possibilities are endless, and it won't take long for people to figure out creative ways to use this.


Here's a short video of the demo, led by Microsoft's Kyle Warnick. He does a great job illustrating some of the cool things you can do with Surface. Check out what he does with a digital camera, and then with a couple of Zunes. Where can I get one of these???

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