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The name Surface comes from "surface computing," and Microsoft envisions the coffee-table machine as the first of many such devices. Surface computing uses a blend of wireless protocols, special machine-readable tags and shape recognition to seamlessly merge the real and the virtual world an idea the Milan team refers to as "blended reality." The table can be built with a variety of wireless transceivers, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and (eventually) radio frequency identification (RFID) and is designed to sync instantly with any device that touches its surface. It supports multiple touch points Microsoft says "dozens and dozens" -- as well as multiple users simultaneously, so more than one person could be using it at once, or one person could be doing multiple tasks. The term "surface" describes how it's used. There is no keyboard or mouse. All interactions with the computer are done via touching the surface of the computer's screen with hands or brushes, or via wireless interaction with devices such as smartphones, digital cameras or Microsoft's Zune music player. Because of the cameras, the device can also recognize physical objects; for instance credit cards or hotel "loyalty" cards. For instance, a user could set a digital camera down on the tabletop and wirelessly transfer pictures into folders on Surface's hard drive. Or setting a music player down would let a user drag songs from his or her home music collection directly into the player, or between two players, using a finger or transfer mapping information for the location of a restaurant where you just made reservations through a Surface tabletop over to a smartphone just before you walk out the door.

In ndex 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 0 11 1 12 2

Sub bject Introd duction n What Is Surfa Co W ace omputing History of Surf face Comput ting Su urface c compu uter architecture Hard dware System Softwa m are Wor rking Key ttributes K At Percep P ptive Pi ixel Multitou uch Appli ication ns Pros & Cons Conc clusion n

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Over the past couple of years, a new class of interactive device has begun to emerge, what can best be described as surface computing. Two examples are illustrated in this report. They are Surface Table top Perceptive Pixel The Surface table top typically incorporates a rear-projection display coupled with an optical system to capture touch points by detecting shadows from below. Different approaches to doing the detection have been used, but most employ some form of IR illumination coupled with IR cameras. With todays camera and signal-processing capability, reliable responsive and accurate multitouch capabilities can be achieved. The multitouch pioneer Perceptive Pixel is building an entirely new multitouch framework from the ground up. Instead of simply mapping multitouch technology to familiar interfaces and devices, companies goal is far more sweeping. To use the technology as a foundation for an entirely new operating system. Because they are new to most, the tendency in seeing these systems is to assume that they are all more-or-less alike. Well, in a way that is true. But on the other hand, that is perhaps no more so than to say that all ICs are more-or-less alike, since they are black plastic things with feet like centipedes which contain a bunch of transistors and other stuff. In short, the more that you know, the more you can differentiate. But even looking at the two systems in the photo, there is evidence of really significant difference. The really significant difference is that one is vertical and the other is horizontal. Why is this significant? Well, this is one of those questions perhaps best answered by a child in kindergarten. They will tell you that if you put a glass of water on the vertical one, it will fall to the floor, leading to a bout of sitting in the corner. On the other hand, it is perfectly safe to put things on a table. They will stay there.

Wh s Surf hat Is face C puting Comp g?

Surfac compu ce uting is a new wa of work ay king with comput h ters that moves bey yond the tradition mous e nal se-and-ke eyboard experience. It is a natura user al inte erface th allows people to intera with d hat s act digital content the same w they e way hav intera ve acted with everyd items such as photos, p h day s paintbru ushes and music d the entire life: with their ha eir h ands, with gesture and by putting real-wo es g orld objects on the surfa ace. Surfa comp ace puting op pens up a whole n new cate egory of p products s for users to interact with. r Sur rface com mputing i a comp is pletely in ntuitive a liberating way to inter and y ract with dig gital cont tent. It blurs the li ines betw ween the physical and virt tual worl lds. By usi your hands or placing other un ing r g nique eve eryday objects on the surface su o n uch as an item y youre go oing to purchase at a retai store or a paint brush you can il eract with, share and colla aborate like youve never done be l r efore. Im magine inte you ure out a a resta at aurant with friend and you each p ds place you bevera on th ur age he tab and all kinds of inform ble s mation appears b your g by glass, suc as win pairing ch ne gs wit a resta th aurants menu. Th m hen, with the flick of your f finger, yo order dessert ou r and split the bill. W really s this a broadening co d e We see as ontent op pportuniti and ies del livery sy ystems. Sur rface com mputing i a powe is erful mov vement. I fact, its as sign In nificant a the mo as ove from DOS [D Disk Ope erating S System] to GUI [G Graphic U User Inter rface]. Our research ows many pe eople are intimida e ated and isolated by today techn ys nology. sho that m Ma featur available in m any res mobile ph hones, PC and other elec Cs ctronic devices lik ke dig gital cam meras aren even used bec nt cause the technol e logy is in ntimidatin Surfa ng. ace com mputing breaks down tho traditional bar d ose rriers to technolo so tha people t ogy at e can interact with all kinds of digital c n f content in a more intuitive engagi and n e, ing effi icient ma anner. Its about technolog adapt gy ting to the user, ra ather tha the use an er ada apting to the tech o hnology. Bringing this kind of natu user interface innovation g ural e d to the comp t puting sp pace is wh Surfa Comp hat ace puting is all abou ut.

Hist tory o of Sur rface Com mputin ng

2001 2
Microso research oft hers Steve Bathiche and Andy Wilson dev e veloped idea of intera active table tha could un at nderstand t manipu the ulation of physical pie p eces.

2003 2

1stproto otypemode elnamedT1 1whichisba asedonanI IKEAtablew wasborn.Te eamsawthevalue ofthesu urfacecomp puterbeyon ndsimplyga amingandb begantofav vorthoseap pplicationst that tookadv vantageoftheuniquea abilityofSurfacetorec cognizephy ysicalobject tsplacedon nthe table.

2005 2

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Finalstru ucturefinalised,interac ctivetableto opdevicew wasbuilttha atseamlessl lybringsbo oththe physicalandvirtualworldsinto oone.

2007 2
Microsof ftSurface2Launches.

2011 2

T1 Tu ubPrototype e MicrosoftSurface

Surface Co uter A S ompu Archit tectur re

Te echnolog gy behin nd Surfa ace Com mputing:
Micro osoft Surf face uses cameras to sense objects hand g s s e s, gestures a touc and ch. Thi user in is nput is the proce en essed and display using rear projection. d yed g . Spe ecifically y: Micro osoft Surf face uses a rear p s projection system which displays a image n an ont the underside of a thin diffuser. Objects such as fingers a visibl throug to are le gh the diffuser by serie of infra e r es aredsen nsitive ca ameras, p positione undern ed neath the e dis splay. An image p n processin system proces ng m sses the c camera im mages to detect o fing gers, cus stom tags and oth objec such a paint b s her cts as brushes w when tou uching the e dis splay. The objects recognized with this sys s h stem are r reported to appli d ications run nning in t comp the puter so t that they can reac to obje shape 2D tag ct ect es, gs, mo ovement and touc ch. of y nents of s surface c computin is a "m ng multitouch screen It h" n. One o the key compon is an idea th has b a hat been float ting arou the re und esearch commun since the 1980 nity e 0s and is swiftly becom d ming a hip new pr p roduct in nterface Apple''s new iPhone has s mu ultitouch scrolling and picture man g nipulation Multito n. ouch dev vices accept input t from multip finger and multiple us ple rs sers simu ultaneous allow sly, wing for c complex x stures, in ncluding grabbin stretch ng, hing, swi iveling a slidin virtual objects and ng l ges acr ross the t table. An the Sur nd rface has the add advan s ded ntage of a horizon screen, ntal so several p people can gathe around and use it togeth er d e her. Its in nterface i the exa is act posite of the pers f sonal com mputer: c cooperative, hand dson, and design for d ned opp pub spac blic ces.


Surface is a 30inch display in a tablelike form factor thats easy for individuals or small groups to interact with in a way that feels familiar, just like in the real world. Surface can simultaneously recognize dozens and dozens of movements such as touch, gestures and actual unique objects that have identification tags similar to bar codes. Surface is a computer embedded in a medium-sized table, with a large, flat display on top that is touch-sensitive. The software reacts to the touch of any object, including human fingers, and can track the presence and movement of many different objects at the same time. In addition to sensing touch, the surface unit can detect objects that are labeled with small "domino" stickers, and in the future, it will identify devices via radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags.

The Main Components are:

Screen: 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. Infrared: Surface's "machine vision" operates in the near-infrared spectrum, using an 850-nanometer-wavelength LED light source aimed at the screen. When objects touch the tabletop, the light reflects back and is picked up by multiple infrared cameras with a net resolution of 1280 x 960. CPU: Surface uses many of the same components found in everyday desktop computers a Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM and a 256MB graphics card. Wireless communication with devices on the surface is handled using WiFi and Bluetooth antennas (future versions may incorporate RFID or Near Field Communications). The underlying operating system is a modified version of Microsoft Vista. Projector: Microsoft's Surface uses the same DLP light engine found in many rear projection HDTVs. The footprint of the visible light screen, at 1024 x 768 pixels, is actually smaller than the invisible overlapping infrared projection to allow for better recognition at the edges of the screen.

The display screen is a 4:3 rear-projected DLP display measuring 30 inches diagonally. The screen resolution is a relatively modest 1024x768, but the touch detection system had an effective resolution of 1280x960. Unlike the screen resolution, which for the time being is constant, the touch resolution varies according to the size of the screen usedit is designed to work at a resolution of 48 dots per inch. The top layer also works as a diffuser, making the display clearly visible at any angle.

Five c cameras mounted beneath the tabl read objects an touch on the d h le o nd hes e acr rylic surf face abov which is flood with n ve, h ded near-infr rared ligh to mak such ht ke tou uches eas sier to pick out. T came The eras can r read a ne early infin num nite mber of sim multaneou touche and ar limited only by process us es re d y sing pow wer. Righ now, ht Sur rface is o optimized for 52 to d ouches, o enoug for fou people to use a 10 or gh ur e all fing gers at once and still have 12 obje e ects sittin on the table. ng

Sy ystem S Softwar re

Surfac compu ce uters from Micros uses Window 7 as the Oper m soft ws eir rating Sys stem & su urface co omputers from oth vend s her dors use t their proprietary OSs. The e var rious dem monstrati programs are accesse from a main menu, whi scroll ion e ed ich ls left and righ in an e t ht endless lo oop. The user mo e oves the s selection by swip n ping bac and fo ck orth and s selects a applica an ation with a single tap. Th works h his s rea asonably well and feels qu natur When an app y d uite ral. plication i selecte a swirly is ed, pur rple ring appears in the c g s center of the scree to ind en dicate tha the pro at ogram is loa ading. Mu of the softwar was wr uch e re ritten usi Micro ing osoft's WPF (Wind W dows Pre esentatio Founda on ation), th hough the XNA de e evelopme toolk a fram ent kit, mework originally c created fo writing PC and Xbox 36 games is also s or g d 60 s supporte XNA ed. allo prog ows grammer to use m rs managed code w d written in C# to manipulate various e s Dir rectX fea atures; ma anaged c code free the pro es ogrammer from w worrying about g han ndling m memory, a allocating and dis g scarding memory automa y atically. T This app proach h allowed Micro has osoft and its partn d ners to wr impr rite ressive-lo ooking dem monstrat tion prog grams for Surface more qu r uickly tha would otherwi be an d ise pos ssible. emonstra ation pro ograms ar access from a main m re sed m menu, The various de wh hich scrol left an right in an endless loop The use moves the sele lls nd n p. er s ection by y swi iping bac and fo ck orth and selects a application with a single tap. Th works an his s rea asonably well and feels qu natur When an app y d uite ral. plication i selecte a swirly is ed, pur rple ring appears in the c g s center of the scree to ind en dicate tha the pro at ogram is loa ading.

Working g

Surfac uses cameras t sense objects, hand ge ce c to estures an touch. This use nd . er input is then p processed and dis d splayed u using rea projec ar ction. Surfac uses th rear p ce his projectio system which displays an image onto the on m d e e under rside of thin diffus ser. Image process e sing syst tem proc cesses the camera images to detec fingers e a s ct s, custom tags an other objects s m nd such as p paint bru ushes whe touchi the en ing displa ay. The objects re ecognized with th system are rep his m ported to applicat tions runnin in the compute so that they ca react to object shapes, 2D tags, ng e er an o movement and touch. d

Ke ey attributes o of Surfa ace Com mputer r

Direc interac ct ction: Us sers can actually grab d digital inf formation with the n eir hands and inte s eract with content by touc and ge h ch esture, w without the use of a e mouse or keyb e board.

Multi i-touch c contact : Surface computin recog ng gnizes ma poin of any nts contac simultaneously not just from on finger, as with a typical touch ct y, t ne l screen, but up to dozens and d p dozens of items at once.

Multi i-user ex xperienc : The h ce horizonta form fa al actor mak it eas for kes sy sever people to gath aroun surface compu ral e her nd e uters toge ether, pro oviding a collab borative, face-to-f face com mputing e experienc ce.

Objec recognition: U ct Users can place p n physical o objects on the sur rface to trigge differe types of digita respon er ent al nses, inclu uding the transfe of digit e er tal content.

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Pe erceptiv ve Pixe el Multi itouch

Comp puter scie entists se techno ee ologies such as su urface co omputing and g mu ultitouch as the ke to a ne era of ubiquito comp ey ew f ous puting, w where pro ocessing pow is em wer mbedded in almo every object a every d ost and ything is interacti ive. Last yea New Y ar, York Univ versity p professor Jeff Han launche a comp r n ed pany call led Per rceptive Pixel, wh hich buil six-fig lds gure plus custom multitou drafti table s uch ing es and enormo inter d ous ractive wall displa for la ays arge corp porations and military s situ uation rooms. The d displays surface is a six s e x-millimeter-thic piece of clear acrylic ck e r c, wit infrar LEDs on the edges. L th red s Left undi isturbed the light passe along d, es pre edictable paths within th acryli a pro w he ic, ocess kno own as total inte ernal ref flection. When o objects su as fi uch ingers to ouch the surface the lig diffus e e, ght ses at the contact poin causin the ac t nt, ng crylics internal l-reflecti pathw ion ways to cha ange. A camera below th surface captu he ures the diffusion and se n ends the inf formatio to ima on age-proc cessing software which can read multip touch s e, d ple hes sim multaneo ously an translate them into a c nd m comman The s nd. system s sends inf formatio about screen t on touches to applic cations via the li v ightweig Open ght n Sou und Con ntrol prot tocol, utilized fo networ or rk-based commu d unicatio betwe on een com mputers and mu s ultimedia device and U es, User Datagram Protocol data P tra ansport technology. The applicat tions the take t appro en the opriate a actions.

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Wireless! Transfer pictures from camera to Surface and cell phone. Drag and drop virtual content to physical objects. Digital interactive painting At a phone store? Place cell phone on the Surface and get information, compare different phones, select service plan, accessories, and pay at table! At a restaurant? View menu, order drinks and meal at your table! Its a durable surface you can eat off of (withstands spills, etc.). Need separate checks? Split bill at and pay at table. Play games and use the Internet. Watch television Jukebox! Browse music, make play lists. Billboard for advertising Maps

Pros & Cons of Surface Computers


Large surface area to view different windows and applications. Data Manipulation - Selecting, moving, rotating and resizing (manipulating objects on the screen is similar to manipulating them in the manual world). Quick and easy to use. More Than One User Several people can orient themselves on different sides of the surface to interact with an application simultaneously (Max 52points of touch). Object Recognition - Increased functionality aiding user in speed and ease of use Time saving by eliminating many processes.



Not portable and very expensive. Privacy - Open for many to view. Screen Visibility - Glare, finger prints/dirt and human interaction obscuring interface. Poor Accuracy - Fat fingers are not as accurate as a mouse or stylus. Fatigue - Reaching across the table often can cause the arms to ache. Objects needs to be tagged (domino tags or RFIDs)

Some people will look at Surface and claim that it does nothing that hasn't been tried before: computers with touch screens have been around for years and have already found niches in ATMs, ticket ordering machines, and restaurant point-ofsale devices. This view largely misses the point of the product. Like most projects, Surface takes existing technology and presents it in a new way. It isn't simply a touch screen, but more of a touch-grab-move-slide-resize-and-placeobjects-on-top-of-screen, and this opens up new possibilities that weren't there before. Playing with the unit felt a bit like being in the movie Minority Report (in a good way), but it also felt like a more natural and enjoyable method of doing certain computing tasks. Sharing and looking at family photos, for example, is more fun on Surface than on any other device. The retail applications, particularly the dining application, show how businesses could use the technology to really stand out from competitors, though one wonders how diners will react when their table locks up and needs a reboot. Many people who viewed the early Xerox PARC demonstrations of the GUI came out of that experience knowing that every computer would work that way someday, and they were right. Playing with Surface, one gets the sense that although not every computer will work like this someday, many of them will. More importantly, computers running Surface-like software will end up in places that never had computers before, and the potential applications are exciting. Imagine a multiplayer real-time strategy game where you and another human opponent can move units around as quickly as you can point to them or perhaps an educational environment, where university students could assemble and disassemble anything from molecules to skyscrapers quickly and easily.


1. Apple iPhone Multi-touch. 2. 3. 4. 5. Microsoft Surface, 6. Perceptive Pixel,