Microsoft Surface (Codename: Milan), is a forthcoming product from Microsoft which is developed as a software and hardware combination technology that allows a user, or multiple users, to manipulate digital content by the use of natural motions, hand gestures, or physical objects, similar to the futuristic computer screens portrayed in Minority Report. It was announced on May 29, 2007 at D5, and is expected to be released by commercial partners in November 2007. Initial customers will be in the hospitality businesses, such as restaurants, hotels, retail, and public entertainment venues.
Surface is essentially a Windows Vista PC tucked inside a black table base, topped with a 30-inch touchscreen in a clear acrylic frame. Five cameras that can sense nearby objects are mounted beneath the screen. Users can interact with the machine by touching or dragging their fingertips and objects such as paintbrushes across the screen, or by setting real-world items tagged with special barcode labels on top of it.
Surface has been optimized to respond to 52 touches at a time. During a demonstration with a reporter, Mark Bolger, the Surface Computing group’s marketing director, “dipped” his finger in an on-screen paint palette, then dragged it across the screen to draw a smiley face. Then he used all 10 fingers at once to give the face a full head of hair.
In addition to recognizing finger movements, Microsoft Surface can also identify physical objects. Microsoft says that when a diner sets down a wine glass, for example, the table can automatically offer additional wine choices tailored to the dinner being eaten.
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