By Evan Ackerman
About an hour ago, I got a chance to play around with Microsoft Surface in a more or less personal demo, thanks to a miraculous feat of fast talking by Brian Westbrook (who’s covering CES for KATU, KOMO, and KXL) who got me in the door with him. Watch the demo video below, and then I’ll tell you what it’s like to play around with Surface, which I got to do for a few precious minutes afterward.
Surface is one of the most intuitive interfaces I’ve ever experienced. It works just like you think it’s supposed to, you don’t even have to concentrate. We played with Paint, using our fingers and hands as brushes, which was (for lack of a better expression) way, way fun. Surface is not touch sensitive; underneath the tabletop are five cameras, a projector, and a Vista computer. The cameras watch for user interaction on the surface, and then control the projection on the underside of the table. Surface identifies objects by looking for a tag, which is a specific combination of white dots on a black background (it’s like a bar code). No RFID involved. As the Microsoft guy says in the demo, it’ll first show up in retail locations here in Las Vegas in the spring, but in 3-5 years you should be able to buy your own… Likely for something over the current $10,000 commercial partner price (but I hope I’m wrong about that). Either way, it’s money well spent, if you ask me.