Today at D5, Bill Gates demonstrated Microsoft’s new platform, Surface. Basically, it is a computer built into a table with a rear-projection, 30” display as the surface. It utilizes cameras to detect hand gestures, touch, and objects, such as smartphones, media players, and digital cameras. It can communicate with such objects using wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and WiFi.
At face value, this should be really exciting. The videos created by their marketing team show some really cool capabilities. The multi-touch manipulation of photos and videos looks completely intuitive. The seamless transfer of digital files and information between the table and objects placed on it is inspired. The potential applications and methods of interaction not shown are titillating.
So why am I yawning as a write this? Why has Surface not engendered the same fevered anticipation I feel when watching the videos of the iPhone? You don’t have to dig very deep to find that the table will cost between five and ten thousand dollars. Microsoft is doing what it does best, partnering with other companies to sell Surface and get it into the market. What market would that be? They plan to have them installed in high-end hotels, casinos, and the like by the end of the year. That means I’m not likely to see one. I’ll be surprised if I have the chance to interact with one before 2010.
I’ll have an iPhone in my pocket come July or August.