Microsoft Surface

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 2:34 PM | Filed under

Last night, my aunt sent me a link to a news story about Microsoft Surface, asking if I had heard of it before. I have heard of it before, but in case you don't know what it is, I suppose I ought to explain briefly. Microsoft Surface is like a table, and the surface is like a screen, and it's like a touch screen, so you can interact with the table by touching it. You can set a digital camera on top of the table, and it knows the camera is there because the table has cameras inside. It downloads the pictures from the digital camera, and displays them on the surface, and you can interact with the pictures by moving them around or resizing them by grabbing two points on the picture and stretching them apart. You can also set a cell phone on top of the surface, and drag one of the pictures to it to put the picture on the phone. That's just a few examples.

Microsoft says the Surface isn't really ready for home use yet, but they will be appearing some time next month in businesses, especially those in the hospitality business. I'm really interested in the restaurant applications. You can flip through menu choices, and see pictures, descriptions, price, and perhaps even ratings from other restaurant patrons. Then when you see what you want, you drag it to a spot in the center of the table labeled "order". Then after the meal, people set down their credit cards, and decide how they want to pay. If each person wants to pay only for the food they got, then they can drag the pictures of their food to their own credit cards to pay for them.

My cousin Kevin and I have had lengthy discussions about other uses the table could have in restaurants. I think there should be a button that appears near your glass (and the table knows it's a glass because of the camera inside). When your drink is running low, you can press the button, labelled "refill", and someone from the wait staff will know that you want a refill and promptly run over to pour more beverage into your glass. I think it's better than what we have now, where you have to wait for someone to notice your empty glass. Kevin said that the table itself should be able to see if the glass is getting empty. Then, he said a nozzle in the ceiling should automatically squirt the beverage into your glass. It can't miss the glass because the table knows exactly where it is. Same kinda thing happens when you're running out of garlic bread.

I personally can't wait until it's available and affordable enough for home use. Can you imagine if you had a Surface table as a coffee table, and it had a built-in remote control function? You would never lose your remote! (Unless you're stupid enough to lose a table...) You could change the channel by poking the virtual buttons on the table. What I think would be cooler is if it would display a program guide (a grid showing when shows come on, and on what channel) on the surface of the table. All you would have to do is touch the show you want to watch, and the table would tell the TV to turn it to that channel! If you happened to have a glass or a magazine on the table, it would kinda wrap the guide around it so that these things wouldn't obscure the guide. I dunno, I think this is getting a little silly.

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