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Microsoft Surface

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libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04

Something interesting came out of Microsoft recently. It was even in the news here multiple times. It is Microsoft Surface. At first when I saw it I thought something like "great, a yet another technology rip off as Apple already presented (and patented) multi-touch screens". But after I've read that ArsTechnica story it appears that this isn't using multi-touch screens at all. It uses five cameras instead.

Although motion sensing cameras isn't such a novel concept, truth be told, this is quite an interesting appliance and I haven't heard of anything quite like this before. It appears Microsoft might be having a hit here and possibly restoring a bit of the loss of reputation it had regarding lack of innovation.

Of course, I am not sure if it's true that they are the first to come with this sort of thing, but if they are it might be one of those things which will build up the new Microsoft which I am anticipating sooner or later in the future (much like IBM was forced to turn into a reformed company, Microsoft might be going through the same process, thanks to the Free Software revolution).

Anyway, what do you think about Surface? Have you seen anything like that before?

Thanks

Edit: Btw, here are some Surface videos. Quite impressive stuff.

tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21
Not impressed.

Have I seen things like this before? I sure have!

Using cameras instead of a multi-touchscreen is just a different way to get the same effect. Cameras have been used to replace mice for years. The entrance of the computer science building at my university used to have a beamer/camera combination which let you play lbreakout by running back and forth. I don't know why it was removed.

The way "surface" lets the user play with photos was cloned from that old multi-touchscreen video everyone has seen.

Recognition of phones and drinks: RFID tags aren't quite a new technology either, are they?

And think about how user-friendly this thing will really be. Is it a good idea to put things on top of a screen? Let's take the phone sale scenario as an example. You want a decent amount of light from above, otherwise the light from the screen will be annoying when having a good look at the phone... but light from above will cause reflections! There is a simple solution to that: use a beamer above the table and let that be the light source too. Why didn't microsoft think of that?

I'll tell you why. It's because they're not innovative, they're just good at calling existing ideas their own, combining them, and making a nice show about them.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Good points. I guess I'm

Good points. I guess I'm just too easily drawn by the flashiness of what they combined. Actually, I can appreciate them combining existing technologies into new useful products. A good deal of the industry is based on exactly that. A lot of the technological innovation comes from universities anyway. Corporations just combine, package and sell it, offering support services etc.

But I don't appreciate when they call these technologies their own, that's for sure. That's what breaks Microsoft's reputation here.

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