[CES] People Crowd Around Microsoft's Finger-Operated Tabletop PC

Jan 10, 2008
Yasushi Uchida, Nikkei Electronics
Tabletop PC "Microsoft Surface"
Tabletop PC "Microsoft Surface"
[Click to enlarge image]
The locations and sizes of the pictures displayed on the screen can be changed by the movement of fingers.
The locations and sizes of the pictures displayed on the screen can be changed by the movement of fingers.
[Click to enlarge image]

In the booth of Microsoft Corp of the US at the 2008 International CES, an unusual PC is attracting a large crowd. It is "Microsoft Surface," a tabletop PC equipped with a 30-inch touch screen display.

The Windows-based PC offers a user interface developed exclusively for it that allows various operations only using fingers (without using the keyboard or mouse). This PC was formally announced in May 2007, but it was unveiled at the current CES. The PC will be released in March in the US.

The touchscreen panel of Surface is capable of detecting more complicated operations compared with conventional ones, according to the company. The company did not disclose the details of its technologies, but "It is equipped with multiple sensors and other devices in addition to the usual touch panel functions," Microsoft says.

Ordinary touch panels can detect only one contact point, while that of the Surface can detect contacts of multiple fingers and "also detects angles and moving distances of fingers," the company said. This enables intuitive operation corresponding to the movement of fingers. For example, the locations and sizes of objects such as pictures displayed on the screen can be changed freely by moving multiple fingers.

Surface is intended for people in the restaurant or hotel business. Microsoft will provide the users with the hardware and an SDK for developing applications. Harrah's Entertainment, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and other companies have already decided to use the product, according to Microsoft.

2008 International CES Special Site