Microsoft’s just released Surface, a new product based upon a coffee-table size (and form factor) touchscreen which supports multiple finger gestures and will include placing devices on them (e.g. smartphones, music players) and having them become ‘available’ to share music, photos, and whatever you might imagine. At first I thought it looked cool but limited, but they showed some intriguing scenarios such as having the table be a menu and placing your cards down to pay at the end, dividing up the things ordered between the cards. It’s fairly high resolution and quite interactive.
While I’m a wee bit worried about bending over the table (with my back aching from a weekend which included carrying large landscaping bricks), I can see some interesting opportunities. They showed one person drawing, and it strikes me as a great surface for co-construction of representations. You know I like models, and having a multi-touch interface on top of an application like OmniGraffle would be great to sit over and talk with colleagues about. They talk about sharing files, but I wonder if you could bring in your own applications.
I can really easily see kids all ganging up around one, too, like they already do with the whiteboard, lego, whatever. With that device connectivity, they could take their devices out into the world, bring stuff back, share, and create projects in a more natural way. Or even share their creations (drawings, Spore creatures, genetically created pets, what have you). Then, of course, finding a way to have different surfaces in different places and have them linked, so that they could collaborate at a distance (with VoIP, and maybe their photo or something on the side for ‘telepresence’.
And board games could take on a whole new dimension. Wizard’s Chess, anyone?
Ok, I’m game to play.