Microsoft Surface, is a forthcoming Multi-touch product from Microsoft This 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.
It was announced on May 29, 2007 at D5 conference, and is expected to be released by commercial partners in spring 2008. Initial customers will be in the hospitality businesses, such as restaurants, hotels, retail, public entertainment venues and the military for tactical overviews.
A projector underneath the surface projects an image onto its underside, while five cameras in the machine's housing record reflections of infrared light from human fingertips. The camera can also recognize objects placed on the surface if those objects have specially-designed "tags" applied to them.
Users can interact with the machine by touching or dragging their fingertips and objects such as paintbrushes across the screen, or by placing and moving tagged objects.
Surface is essentially a Windows Vista PC tucked inside a table, topped with a 30-inch reflective surface in a clear acrylic frame. A projector underneath the surface projects an image onto its underside, while five cameras in the machine's housing record reflections of infrared light from human fingertips. The camera can also recognize objects placed on the surface if those objects have specially-designed "tags" applied to them. Users can interact with the machine by touching or dragging their fingertips and objects such as paintbrushes across the screen, or by placing and moving tagged objects.
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.
Microsoft notes four main components being important in Surface's interface: direct interaction, multi-touch contact, a multi-user experience, and object recognition.
Direct interaction refers to the user's ability to simply reach out and touch the interface of an application in order to interact with it, without the need for a mouse or keyboard.
Multi-touch contact refers to the ability to have multiple contact points with an interface, unlike with a mouse, where there is only one cursor. Multi-user is a benefit of multi-touch -- several people can orient themselves on different sides of the surface to interact with an application simultaneously. Object recognition refers to the device's ability to recognize the presence and orientation of tagged objects placed on top of it.
The technology allows non-digital objects to be used as input devices. In one example, a normal paint brush was used to create a digital painting in the software. This is made possible by the fact that, in using cameras for input, The system does not rely on restrictive properties required of conventional touch screen or touchpad devices such as the capacitance, electrical resistance, or temperature of the tool used.
The computer's "vision" is created by a near-infrared, 850-nanometer- wavelength LED light source aimed at the surface. When an object touches the tabletop, the light is reflected to multiple infrared cameras with a net resolution of 1280 x 960, allowing it to sense, and react to items touching the tabletop. Surface will ship with basic applications, including photos, music, virtual concierge, and games, that can be customized for the customers.
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