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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). Surface has been optimized to respond to 52 touches at a time. During a demonstration with a reporter, Mark Bolger, the Surface Computing group's marketing director, "dipped" his finger in an on-screen paint palette, then dragged it across the screen to draw a smiley face. Then he used all 10 fingers at once to give the face a full head of hair. 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. 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. In AT&T stores, use of the Surface include 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. 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.
3. History of Surface Computing:
Surface computing is a major advancement that moves beyond the traditional user interface to a more natural way of interacting with digital content. Microsoft Surface, Microsoft Corp.¶s first commercially available surface
and over the course of the following year. A variety of early applications were also built. This feature went through . Stevie Bathiche of Microsoft Hardware and Andy Wilson of Microsoft Research began working together on various projects that took advantage of their complementary expertise in the areas of hardware and software. touch and physical objects instead of a mouse and keyboard. In 2001. The people will be able to interact with Surface in select restaurants. they started talking about an idea for an interactive table that could understand the manipulation of physical pieces. The team was also beginning to realize that surface computing could be applied to a number of different embodiments and form factors. The evolution of Surface had begun. including the gaming-specific PlayTable. including pinball. who was part of the development team eventually tasked with taking the product from prototype to a shipping product. As more applications were developed. Then In early 2003. and within a month. Gates instantly liked the idea and encouraged the team to continue to develop their thinking. in a group review. This conversation was the beginning of an idea that would later result in the development of Surface. a photo browser and a video puzzle. various people at Microsoft involved in developing new product concepts. Bathiche and Wilson saw the need for a product where the interaction was richer and more intuitive. hardware developers and user researchers. Surface prototypes. The virtual team expanded. the team presented the idea to Bill Gates. The model was based on an IKEA table with a hole cut in the top and a sheet of architect vellum used as a diffuser. Over the next year. including the transfer of digital content. One of the key attributes of Surface is object recognition and the ability of objects placed on the surface to trigger different types of digital responses. the team grew significantly. through constant discussion and brainstorming. Although there were related efforts happening in academia. initially software development lead and later architect for Surface. continued to think through the possibilities and feasibility of the project. hotels.computer. functionality and applications were continually refined. retail establishments and public entertainment. including the addition of Nigel Keam. In one of their regular brainstorm sessions. and at the same time practical for everyone to use. the team saw the value of the surface computer beyond simply gaming and began to favor those applications that took advantage of the unique ability of Surface to recognize physical objects placed on the table. the first humble prototype was born and nicknamed T1. breaks down the traditional barriers between people and technology to provide effortless interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures. Microsoft chairman. More than 85 early prototypes were built for use by software developers.
numerous rounds of testing and refining. A Microsoft Surface application should be natural and intuitive and should show little or no resemblance to a traditional Microsoft Windows or Web application. a user should not know that there is a computer in a Microsoft Surface unit. Microsoft Surface Architecture Surface 1. After exploring a variety of options. you should understand the architecture of the development platform.0 SP1 Microsoft Surface is a hardware and software platform for developing multi-input. the original plan of using a single camera in the vision system was proving to be unreliable. At the same time. three-quarter-inch-square tag that is optimal thanks to its small size. including camera placement and different camera lens sizes. . To create effective Microsoft Surface applications. The Microsoft Surface development platform integrates several features and complex hardware and software technologies. it was decided that Surface would use five cameras that would more accurately detect natural movements and gestures from the surface. touch-enabled applications. The team explored various tag formats of all shapes and sizes before landing on the domino tag (used today) which is an 8-bit. The platform enables designers and developers to create rich and visually appealing applications that offer a new user experience in which users use only their hands and various objects to manipulate and interact with the applications. In fact.
For contacts that are made with tagged objects (which have tags printed on the bottom of the objects). As users put contacts on the display and manipulate them. Presentation and The Microsoft Surface SDK informs applications when contacts appear on the Microsoft Core Layers Surface screen over the application window. orientation. and central ellipse. Vision System The Vision System software processes the video data that the hardware captures and converts the raw video into data that you can access through Surface SDK APIs. Component Windows Vista Description Microsoft Surface runs on the Windows Vista operating system. There are two types of calibration: basic and full. Developers and administrators who are working on a Microsoft Surface unit have full access to Windows functionality (in administrator mode). You run full calibration whenever you move a Microsoft Surface unit to a new location. Occasionally. security. the Windows user interface is completely suppressed (in user mode). applications can determine the position. the Microsoft Surface SDK notifies applications and gives them a chance to update their user interface. applications can also determine the contact tag value.The following table describes the components of the Microsoft Surface platform. Hardware The hardware of a Microsoft Surface unit includes the cameras. The hardware captures video of contacts on or close to the screen at a specific frame rate. and computer that is running Windows Vista. and you run basic calibration whenever lighting conditions change drastically. You can use only one layer when you are developing a Microsoft Surface application: The Presentation layer integrates with Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and y . see the Calibrating a Surface Unit article. projection display. bounding box. Windows Vista provides all the administrative. you might have to use a calibration tool to configure the cameras for optimum performance. For each contact. However. when users interact with Microsoft Surface applications. The Microsoft Surface SDK exposes two sets of APIs: the Presentation layer and the Core layer. For more information about how to use the calibration tool. and directory functionality of the Surface unit.
and user sessions and provides other functionality. windows. You must use this functionality to support unique aspects of the Microsoft Surface experience. including the transfer of digital content. Multi touch contact. Object recognition. y You can use the Core layer together with almost any user interface framework. Key attributes of Surface Computing: Surface computing features four key attributes: Direct interaction. not just from one finger as with a typical touch screen. switching between the Windows user interface (administrator mode) and the user experience (user mode). such as managing user sessions. see Presentation and Core Layers. Surface Shell Surface Shell is the component that manages applications. Every Microsoft Surface application must integrate with Surface Shell. The horizontal form factor makes it easy for several people to gather around surface computers together. and handling critical failures. Surface and Windows Integration The integration between Microsoft Surface and the Windows operating system provides system-wide functionality on top of the Windows operating system. providing a collaborative. Users can actually ³grab´ digital information with their hands and interact with content through touch and gesture. orientation. System Hardware: . Users can place physical objects on the surface to trigger different types of digital responses. face to face computing experience. without the use of a mouse or keyboard. Surface computing recognizes many points of contact simultaneously. but up to dozens and dozens of items at once. Multi user experience. For more information about the Presentation and Core layers. monitoring critical Microsoft Surface processes.includes a suite of Microsoft Surface-enabled controls.
using an 850-nanometer-wavelength LED light source aimed at the screen. (2) Infrared: Surface's "machine vision" operates in the near-infrared spectrum. When objects touch the tabletop. (3) CPU: Surface uses many of the same components found in everyday desktop computers ² a Core 2 Duo processor. Wireless communication with devices on the surface is handled using WiFi and Bluetooth antennas (future versions may incorporate RFID or Near Field Communications). System Softwares: . (4) Projector: Microsoft's Surface uses the same DLP light engine found in many rearprojection HDTVs. The underlying operating system is a modified version of Microsoft Vista. is actually smaller than the invisible overlapping infrared projection to allow for better recognition at the edges of the screen. The footprint of the visible light screen.10 (1) Screen: A diffuser turns the Surface's acrylic tabletop into a large horizontal "multitouch" screen. The Surface can also recognize objects by their shapes or by reading coded "domino" tags. 2GB of RAM and a 256MB graphics card. at 1024 x 768 pixels. the light reflects back and is picked up by multiple infrared cameras with a net resolution of 1280 x 960. capable of processing multiple inputs from multiple users.
a framework originally created for writing PC and Xbox 360 games. Casino. This works reasonably well and feels quite natural. I asked if the Surface team considered allowing the user to drop into Windows mode while retaining the touch functionality. but they felt that the product worked better if it stayed in this mode. Much of the software was written using Microsoft's WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation). When an application is selected. Media Center. This approach has allowed Microsoft and its partners to write impressive-looking demonstration programs for Surface more quickly than would otherwise be possible. a T-Mobile demonstration app. The user moves the selection by swiping back and forth and selects an application with a single tap. Photos. in that the main application runs on top of Windows and takes over the whole screen.Microsoft Surface works much like another Microsoft product. is also supported. managed code frees the programmer from worrying about handling memory. There were eight different programs available: Water. Like Media Center. Features: . though the XNA development toolkit. and Dining. which scrolls left and right in an endless loop. Music. it is designed to be difficult to exit the application without using a mouse or keyboard. Paint. Video Puzzle. a swirly purple ring appears in the center of the screen to indicate that the program is loading. The various demonstration programs are accessed from a main menu. allocating and discarding memory automatically. XNA allows programmers to use managed code written in C# to manipulate various DirectX features.
a process known as total internal reflection. the light passes along predictable paths. Users could also. The Microsoft Surface display is capable of multi-touch interaction. When one or more fingers touch the surface. Multitouch technology has been around since early research at the University of Toronto in 1982. such as nearby restaurants. A camera below the surface captures the diffusion and sends the information to image-processing software. which translates it into a command. For example. With multitouch devices. recognizing dozens and dozens of touches simultaneously.13 Multi-touch display. When undisturbed. one or more users activate advanced functions by touching a screen in more than one place at the same time. about the area surrounding the . including fingers. a person could expand or shrink images by pinching the edges of the display window with the thumb and forefinger of one hand. Perceptive Pixel¶s touch screens work via frustrated total internal reflection Technology. gestures and objects. hands. the light diffuses at the contact points. The acrylic surface has infrared LEDs on the edges. while in contact with a point on a map. explained Microsoft principal researcher Bill Buxton. touch other controls to make the system display information. changing the internal-reflection pathways.
For example. The computers then orient their displays toward the tabletop edge nearest to the user. enabling a truly collaborative computing experience. The systems can determine users¶ locations based on the positions from which they input commands or data.screen implementation. and its interior frame is powder-coated steel. 21 inches deep and 42 inches wide. Vendors are beginning to release commercial multitouch systems. Horizontal orientation. Dimensions. The OS translates the simultaneous keystrokes into a single command. desktop users can press the Alt and Tab keys at the same time to toggle between open windows. which includes a developer¶s kit. This is accomplished much as it has been in PCs for years. The 30-inch display in a table-sized form factor allows users to share. Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories¶ Diamond Touch table. Industry observers say tabletop computers are likely to become a popular multitouch.14 indicated location. Applications: . Because multiple users at different positions will work with tabletop systems. explore and create experiences together. can be used for small-group collaboration. For example. The Microsoft Surface tabletop is acrylic. Materials. the computers must be able to display material in different parts of the screen and move controls around to keep them from blocking reoriented content. Microsoft Surface is 22 inches high.
having this great touch interface absolutely cries out for a more full. something that can mix colors (like Microsoft's own paint program that comes with the Tablet PC version of Windows) and play around with textures and natural materials. real digital artists have been using advanced pressure- 20 . and certainly children will have tons of fun with this kind of application. Using the program is like having a flashback to finger painting back in kindergarten (minus the mess). That said.19 Paint programs have been a natural demonstration application for new platforms ever since MacPaint graced the first Macintosh back in 1984. Surface¶s paint program is even lighter on features than MacPaint was. Of course. There are three draw modes that can be toggled by touching an icon on the bottom of the toolbar: brush. the palm of your hand. the last of which is kind of a negative brush that shows a background bitmap underneath. or using any natural object such as a regular paintbrush. and reveal. but the natural user interface makes up for this deficiency. paint. but the paint mode is smooth and fun. The brush mode is a bit spotty and tends to skip. I immediately thought of Fractal Design Painter and how much fun it would be with this interface.featured program. all your fingers at once (good for drawing hair). You can draw using one finger.
and Keam mentioned that the team is still deciding whether or not to add features to Paint or instead take an existing paint program and rework it for Surface. the song list. In addition to playing music that is already stored on the unit's hard drive." and they joked that Microsoft headquarters didn¶t really count as being in the wild. Mark Bolger demonstrated this by placing two Zunes on top of the Surface and using the wireless connection to drag and drop songs between the units. of course. and the photo album application reflected this freedom. Music can also transfer songs from portable music players.4 Music The Music application works like a virtual jukebox. displaying music arranged by album and allowing the user to flip over albums. and Surface is not aimed at replacing this kind of workflow. Still." 21 Sharing photos is a much more unrestricted activity. I mentioned to the team that this was the first time I had ever seen even one Zune "in the wild. 9. a more fullfeatured Paint program would be nice to have. and the Now Playing section. thanks to the fact that the consumer is also the creator of the content. Bolger noted that sharing songs in this manner would be "subject to DRM restrictions. By simply placing a Bluetooth-equipped digital .sensitive graphics tablets for years. although many albums are visible at once without scrolling. select songs. The album browser works a bit like Apple¶s Cover Flow. and drag them to the "Now Playing" section.
Most of the other photos were pictures of Microsoft employees' children. and resize the images to your heart¶s content. my Microsoft PR contact who was sitting in the next chair. Bolger joked that only the cutest kids were allowed to be put in the demonstration. multiple people can sort and resize pictures. Since Surface can detect many touches at the same time. tapping the video once starts the playback. Surface was able to import the photos and place them in a pile on the screen. rotate. . and it can be smoothly resized and rotated while it plays. Photos are arranged into albums that look like piles. Not only pictures but full-motion videos can be viewed in this way. although I did not see this feature demonstrated. which could potentially turn a tedious job into a fun family affair.camera on the tabletop. which Bolger verified by taking a picture of Cindy. The program can also apparently sort photos into stacks by using metadata tags. Tapping the pile once spreads it around the screen and from there you can drag.
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