It is not often I find exciting Microsoft products on Slashdot, but there are exceptions to the rule. /. linked up a Popular Mechanics article on Microsoft Surface. Surface is a fancy multitouch table that Microsoft has been working on in semi-secrecy for a while. In addition to being multitouch, it also features proximity detection so it can talk to your phone (bluetooth) and camera (wifi) and other devices when you put them on the table.
Gattis took out a digital camera and placed it on the Surface. Instantly, digital pictures spilled out onto the tabletop. As Gattis touched and dragged each picture, it followed his fingers around the screen. Using two fingers, he pulled the corners of a photo and stretched it to a new size. Then, Gattis put a cellphone on the surface and dragged several photos to it — just like that, the pictures uploaded to the phone. It was like a magic trick. He was dragging and dropping virtual content to physical objects. I’m not often surprised by new technology, but I can honestly say I’d never seen anything like it.
It looks and feels a lot like CityWall and some of Jeff Han’s work, but it does not appear that Han has worked with Microsoft. One of the notable differences between Han’s tables (which are pricey) and Surface is price. Surface is supposedly going to be on sale this year for $5,000 to $10,000. The article mentions commercial applications, but I would think that education and museums would also have a huge interest. While I wouldn’t be able to afford one for my home, $10,000 is a very accessible price point for a museum.
Whiz-bang aside, the table also reminds me a bit of Pac Man. I also wonder if it can run linux. I’m actually sure that when this comes out, there will be a linux distro that includes a Pac Man knock-off.