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Surface in homes within three years

Surface in homes within three years

Microsoft's Surface never really took off - but researcher Bill Buxton predicts its entry into homes within the next three years.

Microsoft's Surface, the interactive coffee table, is one of those inventions that appears awesome but then fails to really go anywhere: aside from a few in-store demos and an open-source versionthe technology has singularly failed to take the world by storm. Microsoft principle researcher Bill Buxton isn't willing to give up on Surface just yet, however - and claims that it could appear in homes within the next three years.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Buxton claimed that the reason Surface never caught on beyond niche market segments was "the complexity of the technology and the cost of manufacturing," with the sheer number of cameras required - five, if you're wondering - bumping the cost up to a point where average consumers just can't afford it.

In order to make Surface a feasible consumer product, Buxton envisions a future where the bulky camera-and-projector-infested table is replaced with "a big LCD where there's a fourth pixel in every triad [...] which is a sensor that will capture stuff."

While that might sound like a pipe-dream, Buxton claims that "sooner than you'd expect - but longer than I want - these things will come in at really cost effective prices and will start appearing in people's living rooms, dining rooms, game rooms, and so on and so forth. And I believe you will see that in three years."

The big question for any new product is, of course: what does it do for me? The killer app for Surface, Buxton believes, is gaming - "a board game, checkers [...] even Dungeons and Dragons."

Join us in three years' time on your coffee table when we look back to see how accurate Buxton's predictions really were.

Do you think that Surface could make a splash if only it weren't so bulky and costly, or have slates already become the new Surface? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

12 Comments

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SaNdCrAwLeR 14th September 2010, 10:25 Quote
sure... let the man invent a sensor that small that costs the same as an LED then... or is he waiting for someone else to do it?
Cthippo 14th September 2010, 11:24 Quote
Even if they invent such a thing, I'm still trying to figure out what you're going to do with it. Ok, you have a giant horizontal touchscreen display that can not be used as a coffee table at the same time. Strikes me as a technology driven by what's possible rather than filling a need.
Gareth Halfacree 14th September 2010, 11:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthippo
Even if they invent such a thing, I'm still trying to figure out what you're going to do with it. Ok, you have a giant horizontal touchscreen display that can not be used as a coffee table at the same time. Strikes me as a technology driven by what's possible rather than filling a need.
The idea behind Surface was as more than a touchscreen - after all, we can do that right now with current technology.

The idea was that by combining sensors, cameras, near-field communication and RFID you could interact with both the table and the items on it. Stick your coffee cup on it, for example, and it *knows* it's a coffee cup - which might mean that it disables incoming e-mail alerts until you've finished relaxing.

The idea went further than that: stick you 'phone on the table, and it syncs with Surface. Touch the table and see all your photos; browse through them and 'swipe' the ones you want to keep over to your PC or external hard drive.

Surface was to be a lot more than a flat touchscreen, but I fear that the message has got lost along the way.
Darkedge 14th September 2010, 15:53 Quote
make it a flexible actually roll up screen for a reasonable price (say $1000) and I'll buy one, I really want to play Catan on Surface :D
yakyb 14th September 2010, 17:20 Quote
anyone who has watched bill gates' unveiling or the D&D version for surface must surely want one of these.
dyzophoria 14th September 2010, 19:00 Quote
atleast they know its the price that is holding it down, honestly with any technology price is always the primary hold up. lol
Farfalho 14th September 2010, 19:25 Quote
Isn't the R.U.S.E table something like that? A friend of mine has one and tried to play FPS on it, it was weird btw lool
The_Beast 14th September 2010, 19:38 Quote
I think it's cool as f**k and I would love to have one, if I could afford it



BTW is there any pricing available at this time?
MSHunter 15th September 2010, 15:03 Quote
Seems like a great Idea that wont be good enough till Steve Jobs puts the "Apple finishing" on it. Like what Apple did with touch screen phones. The tech is great but only if you have the software to back it up!!!
leveller 15th September 2010, 21:52 Quote
If any of you have a real shiny granite kitchen surface, go clean it, give it a polish and then stand back and imagine that hugely reflective granite surface is one massive touch surface.

Imagine playing Ruse ...

Then imagine your partner comes over with a saucepan, puts it down on the touch surface and literally squashes most of your armies ...

Anyway, collecting and sending my emails via granite surface ... Yes please.
Cthippo 15th September 2010, 23:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by leveller
Then imagine your partner comes over with a saucepan, puts it down on the touch surface and literally squashes most of your armies ...

That is the first thing I've heard that seems entertaining on this sort of tech.

It's not quite the same thing, but this does look like a practical application.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVD_Lvv4UOI&feature=player_embedded#!


Notice how big the buttons have to be in order to hit them with our fat human fingers instead of the precision afforded by a mouse.
metarinka 16th September 2010, 03:38 Quote
I always thought of surface more in a business sense. I imagine going to a coffee shop, sitting down at the surface table, the menu you would pop up along with the weather or news or similar widget type apps, maybe it would sync with your phone to remember who you are and pop up what you ordered last.

Now if you had a business client, you would both place your phones on the table and it would swap electronic business cards. maybe you could pop up some photos or a document on product or whatever.

That's what I envisioned,
also good for playing games and such. I honestly think it will be a reality in a few years as the technology comes down in place and developers create a standardized platform for the technology.

Honestly everything I just said could be done on a scaled up version of an Ipad quite easily. The computer hardware doesn't need to be extremely powerful, I'm guessing the display hardware is the costly part.

Also I don't see how this fits too much into a home besides being a static version of an ipad. Although i could see it encorporated into a kitchen counter when the prices come down.
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