Microsoft unveils “Surface” touch-sensitive table

As we predicted last week, Microsoft has finally taken the wraps off of its “Surface” technology (née “PlayTable”), a 30-inch tabletop PC with a gestural touch interface. The company is touting the table’s multi-touch, multi-user interface as an ideal solution for restaurants, clubs and hotels and it certainly looks like it would lend a futuristic feel to otherwise mundane tasks. In a demo on the “Today Show” this morning (video link below), Microsoft chairman Bill Gates showed off a number of the table’s capabilities: auto-sensing a credit card, downloading photos from a camera over WiFi and even finger painting. At $10,000, however, this sort of technology is probably out of reach for mere mortals such as you and I.

The Surface box consists of a 30″ display, an underside projector and a series of motion-tracking cameras that feed into a 1Ghz Windows Vista PC. Quite honestly, I’m a bit disappointed to find out that this thing uses motion tracking instead of capacitive sensing–if you watch the video you’ll notice some noticeable lag time. Still, I wouldn’t mind playing around with this thing and I may soon have the chance: Surface will be deploying in T-Mobile stores, Starwood hotels, and Harrah’s in Vegas by the end of this year.

For more on Surface:
– see this video of Bill Gates on the “Today Show”
– this Wall Street Journal article (sub. req.)
– and the official Surface website

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