Microsoft just announced a very cool new multi-touch computing product, called Surface. At first the rumors were this would be an iPhone competitor, but it’s clear now that it’s much larger (30-inch display!) and more of an environmental computer device. Using the product, people can interact with information using touch, natural gestures and physical objects. So no mouse or keyboard is required. From the press release:
“Surface turns an ordinary tabletop into a vibrant, dynamic surface that provides effortless interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. Beginning at the end of this year, consumers will be able to interact with Surface in hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues.”
It’s best seen to be believed, so check out the videos on the Surface website. Here are some screenshots from those videos:
This is the kind of technology Microsoft does best – a hardware/software amalgam, but not requiring the branding and design touches that Apple is so good at. The beauty of Surface is that it will be integrated into the environment (i.e. tables), so it doesn’t need to be a cool accessory for humans (like iPod, Macbook, etc). Microsoft isn’t so good at accessorizing, but it definitely has the technology chops to create impressive hardware/software products like Surface and XBox.