Microsoft unveils ‘Surface’ interactive table

Surface. Source: Microsoft.

After five years of secret development work, Microsoft has unveiled a new one-of-a-kind device it dubs “Surface.” As CNet reports, Surface is essentially a Windows Vista-powered PC that’s been shoved into a table with a 30″ scratch-proof, spill-proof display. Under the table-top sits a DLP projector and five infrared camera sensors that allow the system to sense finger motions and objects resting on the table.

Touch screens aren’t new, but Microsoft says the device “can simultaneously recognize dozens and dozens of movements such as touch, gestures and actual unique objects that have identification tags similar to bar codes.” Indeed, Popular Mechanics has a video of the device in action here, and it looks like users can control the system in a way that’s straight out of Minority Report. Surface is also able to recognize multiple points of contact from not just one user, but several—a feat aided by the table’s relatively large size, which allows multiple people to sit around it.

Surface isn’t headed to living rooms around the world quite yet, though. Microsoft says the device will arrive at the end of this year and that it will be sold to places like hotels, restaurants, retail establishments, and “public entertainment venues.” Considering the machine’s price—”approaching $10,000,” according to CNet—Microsoft’s decision to keep it out of the consumer market is probably a wise one.

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