Sunday, March 13, 2011

All Aspects of Surface Computing

-: History of Surface Computing :-

2001: Microsoft researchers Steven Bathiche and Andy Wilson developed idea of an interactive table.

2003: 1st prototype was presented to Bill Gates for approval.

2007: Interactive table top device was built that seamlessly brings both the physical and virtual worlds into one.

The table is built with wireless devices using Bluetooth and WI-FI technology (RIFD-Radio Frequency Identification will come later)

Designed to match up with wireless objects placed on the table

Multi-touch screen is used like the technology behind the iPhone (no keyboard or mouse needed)





What is surface computing?

A form of computing that offers “a natural way of interacting with information,” rather than the “traditional user interface.”

Microsoft Surface  is a Multi-touch product from Microsoft which is developed as a software and hardware combination technology that allows a user, or multiple users, to manipulate digital content by the use of gesture recognition.


image image



1) Direct Interaction: The ability to "grab" digital information with hands - interacting with touch/gesture, not with a mouse or keyboard.

2) Multi–Touch:  The ability to recognize multiple points of contact at the same time, not just one (Ex. One finger, like with most touch screens), but dozens.

3) Multi–User: The Surface’s screen is horizontal, allowing many people to come together around it and experience a “collaborative, face–to–face computing experience”.

4) Object Recognition: Physical objects can be placed on the Surface’s screen to “trigger different types of digital responses” (Ex. cell phones, cameras, & glasses of wine).


How is the Surface used?

• Wireless! Transfer pictures from camera to Surface and cell phone. “Drag and drop virtual content to physical objects.”

• Digital interactive painting

• At a phone store? Place cell phone on the Surface and get information, compare different phones, select service plan, accessories, and pay at table!


•At a restaurant? View menu, order drinks and meal at your table! It’s a durable surface you can eat off of (withstands spills, etc.). Need separate checks? Split bill at and pay at table.

• Play games and use the Internet.

• Watch television

• Jukebox! Browse music, make play lists.

•Billboard for advertising

• Maps





Microsoft Game Studio


Microsoft Silverlight


Microsoft XNA Studio


Microsoft ZUNE Studio


Operating system


Language Used



Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio (MRDS)


XBOX based 3D Gaming S/W


Provides Web Cam Support Tools

Render 2D/3D Graphics (Latest Version 4.0)


Image/Video (Play All Formats)

Windows Vista, Windows 7


Visual C#


Windows-based environment for robot control and simulation


Wired Ethernet 10/100, wireless 802.11 b/g, and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity.


Intel dual core processor backed by 2GB of RAM


256MB video card


5 video infrared cameras


30 inch screen 1024 x 768 resolution (sits 21 inches off ground)


DLP projector

Connectivity Requirements










Resolution (Pixels)



Digital Light Prevention



• The Surface is not a touch-sensitive screen device… The screen itself is not electronic.

• The Surface uses multiple infrared cameras beneath the screen/table top to sense objects, physical touch, etc.

• The Surface “recognizes objects based on shape or by using domino-style identification (domino tags) on the bottom of the objects.”

• This information is processed and displayed using “rear projection”.


(1)Screen: Diffuser : ”Multi-Touch" screen. Can process multiple inputs and recognize objects by their shapes or coded "domino" tags.

(2) Infrared sensor: The ”machine vision" is aimed at the screen. Once an object touches the tabletop -> the light reflects back and is picked up by infrared cameras.

(3) CPU: Uses similar components as current desktop computers -> Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM and a 256MB graphics card. Wireless communication -> Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas (future -> RFID). Operating system -> modified version of Microsoft Vista.

(4) Projector: Uses a DLP light engine ( rear-projection HDTVs).


Who’s using the Surface today?

• Currently only commercially available and being used in the retail, hospitality, automotive, banking and healthcare industries.

• Current customers are AT&T, T-Mobile, the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Sheraton Hotels, Disney Innovations House in California, Hotel 1000 in Seattle, Harrah’s Entertainment, and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.




$$$$$$$ Surface machines cost between $5,000 and $10,000, but Microsoft hopes that as prices fall, the machine will find it’s way into the consumer’s household. For it to be able to catch on with “mainstream consumers,” the price will definitely need to come down.




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