With his appearance today at D: All Things Digital, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer will unveil Surface, the first in the company’s new category of surface-computing products that it has touted as “breaking down traditional barriers between people and technology.” Surface has a 30-inch display that can recognize physical objects. It allows, according to Microsoft, “hands-on, direct control of content such as photos, music and maps. … through natural gestures, touch and physical objects.” And it looks like it would make a hell of an air hockey table and perhaps even a Ms. Pacman game.
Surface can also recognize objects embedded with identification tags similar to bar codes. For instance, according to Microsoft, customers could set a wine glass on Surface and a restaurant could provide them with information about the wine, pictures of the vineyard it came from and suggested pairings with food on the menu. Surface, as Microsoft sums it up, brings an “opportunity to create technology that would bridge the physical and virtual worlds.”
Microsoft will begin rolling out the device–which some have likened to a sophisticated toy–in hotels (notably, Starwood Hotels and Resorts), T-Mobile stores, restaurants and entertainment venues (such as Harrah’s in Las Vegas) by the end of the year.
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