Microsoft Launches Surface Computing User Interface


At the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled Microsoft Surface, the first in a new category of surface computing products from Microsoft. Surface turns a tabletop into a dynamic surface that provides interaction with all forms of digital content through gestures, touch and physical objects.

While no musical applications were mentioned in the announcement, Microsoft Surface appears to be a mainstream implementation of technologies pioneered by the Lemur and the Reactable. The potential for music applications could be endless.

Surface is a 30-inch display in a table-like form factor that small groups can use at the same time. The intuitive user interface works without a traditional mouse or keyboard, allowing people to interact with content and information on their own or collaboratively with their friends and families, just like in the real world.

“With Surface, we are creating more intuitive ways for people to interact with technology,” Ballmer said. “We see this as a multibillion dollar category, and we envision a time when surface computing technologies will be pervasive, from tabletops and counters to the hallway mirror. Surface is the first step in realizing that vision.”

Microsoft highlights four key features in their announcment:

  • Direct interaction. Users can actually “grab” digital information with their hands, interacting with content by touch and gesture, without the use of a mouse or keyboard.
  • Multi-touch. Surface computing recognizes many points of contact simultaneously, not just from one finger like a typical touch-screen, but up to dozens of items at once.
  • Multi-user. The horizontal form factor makes it easy for several people to gather around surface computers together, providing a collaborative, face-to-face computing experience.
  • Object recognition. Users can place physical objects on the surface to trigger different types of digital responses, including the transfer of digital content.

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