Microsoft Surface’s vision system can see and interact with objects on the tabletop

February 11, 2011 by Sarah Black

(credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Surface | Microsoft Surface’s vision system can see what’s going on on the tabletop. This allows for all manner of natural user interfaces to be employed both with everyday objects, and objects specifically crafted to work with Surface.

Wikipedia | Microsoft Surface is a surface computing platform that responds to natural hand gestures and real world objects. It has a 360-degree user interface, a 30 in (76 cm) reflective surface with a XGA DLP projector underneath the surface which projects an image onto its underside, while five cameras in the machine’s housing record reflections of infrared light from objects and human fingertips on the surface.

The surface is capable of object recognition, object/finger orientation recognition and tracking, and is multi-touch and is multi-user. 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 placed objects. This paradigm of interaction with computers is known as a natural user interface (NUI).

Using the specially-designed barcode-style “Surface tags” on objects, Microsoft Surface can offer a variety of features, for example automatically offering additional wine choices tailored to the dinner being eaten based on the type of wine set on the Surface, or in conjunction with a password, offering user authentication. A commercial Microsoft Surface unit is $12,500 (unit only), whereas a developer Microsoft Surface unit costs $15,000 and includes a developer unit, five seats and support.

Wikipedia | Partner companies use the Surface in their hotels, restaurants, and retail stores. The Surface is used to choose meals at restaurants, plan vacations and spots to visit from the hotel room. Starwood Hotels plan to allow users to drop a credit card on the table to pay for music, books, and other amenities offered at the resort.  MSNBC’s coverage of the 2008 US presidential election used Surface to share with viewers information and analysis of the race leading up to the election. The anchor analyzes polling and election results, views trends and demographic information and explores county maps to determine voting patterns and predict outcomes, all with the flick of his finger. In some hotels and casinos, users can do a range of things, such as watch videos, view maps, order drinks, play games, and chat and flirt with people between Surface tables.

In AT&T stores, use of the Surface includes interactive presentations of plans, coverage, and phone features, in addition to dropping two different phones on the table and having the customer be able to view and compare prices, features, and plans

Also see:
Microsoft Surface YouTube Channel
Microsoft Surface website