Microsoft Surface is an interactive table top that can do everything a network computer can do plus more without using a keyboard or a mouse. There are four key features: direct interaction, multi-touch ability, multi-user ability, and object recognition. Direct interaction allows you to touch or grab digital information with your hands and use natural gestures to open, grasp, and command virtual objects, pages and images. The multi-touch feature enables the Surface to recognize many points of contact simultaneously so you can enlarge an image by touching the opposite corners and dragging them outwards. Along with the multi-touch feature, the shape and design of the Surface allows for multi-users at once, therefore, the user sitting across from you can be doing something completely different or independent of you. The last key feature, object recognition, enables the system to identify physical objects just by setting them on the Surface and to respond by displaying the appropriate software related to that item. Currently, Microsoft Surface is being marketed and sold directly to large scale leisure, entertainment and retail companies, such as AT&T in various cities, Rio in Las Vegas, and Sheraton Hotels in various cities. The image below of a part of the order form shows the pricing information.
Other multi-touch technologies exist such as Jeff Han’s multi-touch wall which has demonstrated similar abilities as the Surface but is larger in size and costs around $100,000 and the SMART multi-touch tables, which have been referred to as “Surface Jr,” coming available next year for somewhere between $7,000 and $8,000. Even though the SMART multi-touch tables are very similar to the Microsoft Surface, two differences are that they are not quite as responsive and have a kid-proof plastic screen.