Playing With Microsoft Surface

Microsoft Surface is a new, horizontally-positioned multi-touch computer first introduced in 2007. Through a combination of software and hardware, it features gesture recognition capabilities that allow multiple people to use it at the same time. I had a chance to play with a Microsoft Surface at work, and I have to admit that it was pretty cool.

Microsoft Surface

There aren't a lot of applications for it yet, although Microsoft has signed up more than 120 partners in 11 countries to help build applications for the device. It's currently used in places like kiosks, Disneyland's future home exhibits, AT&T stores, etc. A unit currently costs around $12,500, although prices are expected to drop in 2010.

As a multi-touch unit, it's pretty interesting. It was designed so that multiple people can touch the screen and manipulate objects at the same time. According to the specifications, it will recognize up to 52 separate touches at the same time.

I had a chance to play some games on the device, include some simple "assemble the puzzle by dragging/rotating the pieces" games, checkers and a drawing program. It's a pretty neat machine, although I'm not rushing out to buy one myself. It seems to me that Apple's Ipod Touch has changed computing forever by evangelizing multi-touch devices, and that Microsoft Surface represents an effort to expand that multi-touch concept to more commercial venues.


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