Microsoft Surface - Cool!

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Microsoft Surface - Cool!

Microsoft dropped a bombshell with their new Microsoft Surface touchscreen computer that is a touchscreen coffee table with "eyes" that can see what is placed on it blending the virtual and real worlds together.Microsoft Surface Microsoft thinks this technology developed under the top-secret codename 'Milan' will change the world and be used as a coffee table replacement in living rooms and family rooms. According to Popular Mechanics, here's how the screen works... A diffuser turns the Surface's acrylic tabletop into a large horizontal "multitouch" screen, capable of processing multiple inputs from multiple users. The Surface can also recognize objects by their shapes or by reading coded "domino" tags (i.e. RFID). Like Superman, Microsoft Surface even has XRay vision. Ok, I lied, it's infrared vision, a different end of the electromagnetic spectrum, but it could have Xray vision, perfect for seeing through clothes or to view the other poker player's hand - Xray radiation be damned! This table this screen kind of reminds me of those old tabletop video games you'd find in bars and pizza parlors.

In any event, the infrared "machine vision" uses an 850-nanometer-wavelength LED light source aimed at the Surface screen. When objects touch the surface, the light reflects back and is picked up by multiple infrared cameras with a max resolution of 1280 x 960. Microsoft demo'ed the ability to take a digital photo, place the digital camera on the surface and the photo was instantly transferred to the Surface. This "surface computing" as it is called, can utilize a blend of wireless protocols, special machine-readable tags and shape recognition via the infrared cameras to merge the real and the virtual world. Microsoft's Milan team refers this as "blended reality."

Simply by embedding any variety of wireless transceivers, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, RFID, etc. it can sync instantly with any device that touches its surface. I wonder how long before Microsoft or a 3rd party develops some "virtual world" games for Microsoft Surface. It could also be used as an educational tool for youngsters. For instance, the table could say something like "Place the yellow triangle on the table" and then determine if the child correctly performed this task. I do have some skepticism that this will pass the WAF (wife acceptance factor). You really think she'll want to swap out a nice wooden coffee table that coordinates with the rest of the room with some high-tech coffee table gadget? What about the power cord that will now snake across the floor unless you professionally install it under the rug? Nevertheless, all gadget lovers will salivate over this new piece of high-tech furniture gadgetry - including me. To quote Butthead, this is the coolest thing I have ever seen!

Check out the video demo from Popular Mechanics:

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