Microsoft engineers began brainstorming concepts for an interactive table back in 2001. In early 2003 a new product was presented to Bill Gates the Microsoft Chairman. A year later, the MS Surface team grew and became the Surface Computing group. Finally in 2007 they had a prototype to build and then start selling Microsoft Surface.
Microsoft was not the only company in this race. Apple with its iPhone or HP with their big multi touch screen were also deeply involved. There are also other big brands, for instance mobile phones manufacturers where entering the new era of touch.
In 2002 watching the Movie “Minority Report” we knew, all these technologies time would come. Science fiction has now become “reality”. Multi touch mobile device, multi touch screens, which means a natural user interface, create unlimited possibilities for developers and creative people to ride the new “trend”.
A natural user interface allows you to navigate, any type of application, without the need of a keyboard or mouse. Instead, you have to use your hands and fingers. You can still use the keyboard in some cases, though only a virtual one.
As a creative person, deeply involved in the latest technology, and watching the trends and creativity, which you can express on all these devices, it is an exciting challenge. Although for the “end users” this is the dawn of a new era. Just imagine how that particular device will be adapted in certain industries.
Let us take as an example health care, and how patients will, in the new era, be informed of their medical records, or appointments with doctors. Now let’s look at this from a “doctors” perspective, who can use the surface to look at x-ray shots or if the surface is compatible, with other “health care” devices…
Imagine how a typical diabetic who needs to check or make an injection with insulin; will then store everything on a device, designed for this. Finally they go to a Doctor, put their device on a “magic” touch surface and all data will be transferred to the hospital database. Your health data then can be investigated by your doctor very specifically, still using the natural user interface.
The above example, may not entirely reflect or be the future solution; though it should give you a look into the future of the health care data flow. Another example would be the public transport.With multiple surfaces available on the trains, tubes, buses, taxis or even on planes. Let’s say, you travel on the train and have not managed to buy a ticket, with surface you can just “place” your credit card on the screen, make a transaction within a few seconds. What you can also do is book some tickets to the cinema for the evening, obviously after watching a quick trailer of the movie on the surface.
Fashion business also present a great opportunity. You are visiting an online store, with multiple categories of clothes and all kind of things woman love to buy. A natural user interface, would give to the ladies, a significantly higher user experience, almost as though they are in the real store. Browsing, zooming in and customising all the items, would never be so engaging.
The tourism sector would be certainly another great example. Here tourists could browse vacations on the map (Microsoft Virtual Earth is inbuilt in the surface), watching interactive videos, browsing photos, reading reviews, at the same time there is always the possibility of making online transactions – which is what the new era client’s expects.
There are many examples, which I could mention apart from those I have raised. Financial businesses, retailers, government agencies, organisations, museums, galleries, stores, hospitals and finally finishing at home as end users. Everyone, certainly would find surface, as a really handy, scalable and very natural and intuitive device, helping in day-2-day tasks. And the advantage of the surface is, that you can place on it, a number of other devices, which will be recognised by the surface and instantly transfer data in and out. A credit card payment for example, pulling all the information needed, digital cameras integrations or mobile devices which you could just place on the surface and browse your data on a bigger screen!
Microsoft Surface Computing and development companies will have a great opportunity to adapt these amazing multi touch devices, within multiple sectors and finally the bottom line is Microsoft will have to make surface more affordable, to the home end user so they too, can benefit from this new era of touch.
I believe, very soon, devices like surface will become the norm and will complement perfectly with other mobile devices like the iPhone, digital cameras, medical devices and any kind of other devices, being used by many people on a daily basis.
The New Era of Touch has arrived.
Article has been written in collaboration with Thomas Fynes.
About Marek Miesiac Marek works as Head of Web for Six Creative, a Creative Agency. Primarily Marek’s focus is web/digital/new media strategy; he is also very involved in product design, development and testing. He has worked within the new media industry for over 9 years. He has worked for few highly talented interactive agencies, and he also has at one time run his own Digital Agency.
Marek is a big fan of social media, rich internet applications and mobile solutions. At the moment his exclusive focus is on the iPhone App’s design and development. His core business used to be web design and development, but since the smart phone market became the next big thing and Apple created their fantastic distribution channel, Marek decided to focus on that particular, very fast growing media.
Apart from his day to day job, Marek is also very involved in collaboration with various forums, conferences, where he is often invited as a speaker to explain the power of branding and how it can be complemented with either a mobile or a web solution. Marek also contributes articles to .NET Magazine (UK issues) as well as Mac World and a few other trade magazines.
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