The coffee table surfaces as Microsoft’s next Big Thing

When you think about it, using a computer is quite a solitary experience. Personally, I think there’s a lot to be said for that, but bearing in mind that we operate in a working world that is increasingly about collaboration, team working and group brainstorming, sitting on your own in front of a smallish screen could be seen as rather anachronistic.

Bill Gates promised back in November last year With Microsoft Surface, you can plan a day of sightseeing without leaving your hotel lobby.that the next revolution in computing would not be the further development of the Web, but rather the manner in which we actually interact with computers. The first fruits of this were announced yesterday with the launch of Microsoft Surface, a coffee table with a built-in PC and touch-sensitive screen that several people can interact with at the same time.

Although this follows in the footsteps of Apple’s announcement of the touch-screen iPhone, what’s particularly interesting is the potential for multi-user activities. For sometime now, researchers, particularly in high-end activities like particle physics, have been experimenting with group working using wall-sized displays. The Surface may bring these kinds of activities down to less esoteric domains such as the average office, school or restaurant.

It’s not only fingers that will be used to interact with the display. Microsoft is keen to explore the potential for interaction between physical objects, for example, using RFID tags. The Microsoft press release cites a futuristic scenario where a wine glass triggers the display of information about the wine’s vineyard. However, from the coverage I’ve seen it’s not entirely clear what would happen if you actually used it as a coffee table and just put down a steaming hot mug of coffee and a plate of biscuits.

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One Response to “The coffee table surfaces as Microsoft’s next Big Thing”

  1. Three predictions for 2008 « Tech Lunch Says:

    […] to interact with computers (’haptics’ in the jargon) will take off. I noted in a previous post that Bill Gates has been talking about this for some time, and he was at it again in his final […]

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