Microsoft Surface Coffee Table
June 2, 2007
The news is out. It is official. Microsoft are getting into the furniture market. On offer is the Microsoft Surface Coffee Table. They now have the technology to build a coffee table!
But this is no ordinary coffee table. It uses ‘surface computing’, transcending the traditional mouse and keyboard experience for the user, permitting them to interact with digital content the same way they would with other objects, namely by using our hands.
A steal at just 10-15K , the touch sensitive flat screen TV doubles as a coffee table. With the touch of your hand, you can manipulate and re-size your digital images. You don’t need to do anything else to upload or download your digital content from your mobile or digital other than set it down on the table.
We can now interact with content through touch and gesture, literally grabbing data or content with our hands. Granted, it might be obscenely expensive and will probably appear in casinos before it makes its way into the average living room, but consider that there are already people shelling out $5k on HDTV screens for their living rooms or $15K for internet fridges.
Multitouch and multigestural interfaces are serious undertakings, offering real time interaction with a data environment, rather than being shackled to a physical one. This of course gives rise to many contentious issues. With this particular application, imagine the collaborative works that could be created by people sitting around a coffee table, not to mention the copyright issues for Lawyers to disentangle.
You could use motion and touch sensors, and there are advantages and disadvantages with both. Motion is three dimensional, whereas touch is two dimensional. The advantage of touch is that it is much simpler, whereas motion would require a much more complex processor.
How would the table respond to me flapping my hands or dancing on it? Picture a dance floor with the dance floor interacting with the dancers. Technology spawns creativity and things people have never thought of. Then there are the senses of sound, vibration, scent. …sound frequencies that people can’t hear, which start to set and manipulate behavioural parameters. Imagine going to a dance club where the operators are working at various levels to improve the ‘user’ experience in an interactive way.
Surely this stuff doesn’t have to be confined to a surface like a table, and it could use a wall, or floor, within the boundaries of the physical laws of gravity of course!!!!
All art has a confronting nature to it, and that is what makes it powerful, the element of making us uncomfortable. There have been many experiments into the effects sound can have on people, which could potentially be used in crowd control, but at lower doses and different frequencies it could play a role in behavioural conditioning, and affect the overall environment. This is a little futuristic.
At the moment I can envisage animated pictures replacing those Van Goghs hanging above the couch.
But it doesn’t take all that much for things to get more detached from what we are familiar with, things that break the physical laws with which we are familiar with and operate within, optical illusions, holograms, things that create environments which are unnatural to us.
On a lighter note you could play monopoly or candyland on the coffee table; a more fun game as it would be both interactive and animated with the little popsical lady winking at you.
I wonder whether this will incite a patent war between Apple, because it does some of the things that Apple’s iphone does.
How soon will it be before someone can upload or download data in our brains?
Unlike computers, brains are obviously living things. Even twins are not neurocompatible, and the ‘content’ would also be dynamic of course. A person’s neural network evolves (well mine does most of the time), especially when I’m dreaming or having nightmares ….about Minority Report.. and the eventual enslavement of the the human race to robots.
But apparently Lazymanandmoney isn’t satisfied with the applications offered by the Surface, and doesn’t believe this is good value for money, whinging about the fact that it can’t be converted into an instant dining table. Imagine having dinner around the table and the six o’clock news comes on.
Lazy man wanted a Sony Aibo but perhaps he could get a virtual pet in the meantime.
I mean seriously, when I featured the V8 Rover Coffee table I never expected to be able to take it for a spin around the block.
Meanwhile Lazy Man has uncovered a reference to a rather macabre ebay listing of 100 authentic parts and pieces parts from Lindsay Lohan’s smashed Mercedes SL 65 AMG black convertible and has uncovers the Gen X plan to wealth creation. which looks like a more pragmatic path to wealth creation.
Until then, I’ll have to try to devise a way to sell that coffee table on ebay, or maybe there will still be people in the market for a Rover 8.