Saturday, March 21, 2009

Microsoft Deliver the Surface for the Home?

Forget about machines getting ever smaller and more portable, Microsoft have reinvented the computer as a piece of furniture. No its not a desktop but a coffee table! No keyboard or mouse, the table uses a 30in touch-sensitive screen. The table can sense objects placed on top of it if a digital camera is placed on it, photos would automatically appear on the screen and users could sort them as though they were physical prints. If a mobile phone is then placed on the screen, copies of the photos would automatically appear on the mobile as well. ’Surface’ is also a multi user system enabling different people to use it at the same time.

At this week’s UK launch, major companies such as Tesco and Carphone Warehouse demonstrated how it would be used as an information kiosk in store. Hotels in the US have already used the device as a concierge service, recommending shops, restaurants and local sights, and then with a flick of the finger providing detailed maps on how to get to those places.

This is part of Microsoft’s vision of a digital home where other furniture and household fittings can also respond to a person’s voice or touch. However, do we even envisage even businesses wanting to pay £8,500 in today’s climate? Microsoft see the technology as the future of the home but a table is not easy to take to bed, take outside or move around.

Will they be restricted to use in communal areas such as shops, hotels and pubs or just become an expensive toy that no one really wants, uses or understands?

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