Microsoft Surface – Could this make communication easier?

MSS_S_Scr_PosJust in case you had not heard about it,  we recently announced Microsoft Surface,  an interesting project that now coming to life after spending the last 5 years being developed within Microsoft.

I would recommend spending some time looking round the website to get an idea of what exactly it is but to summarise it's an interactive touch screen surface,  currently on a table,  that allows you to interact with photos,  videos,  maps and anything else you want using hand gestures, touch and physical objects.

This got me thinking,  how could this technology help people communicate better?.  Here are some of my thoughts

1) A digital filofax where you use gestures to turn the pages and find the person you want to phone.  If you want to add another person to the call then you just simply drag them into the existing call

2) Pin board in the kitchen allowing you to leave notes for other people in the house,  leave your number in the note to allow people to call you

3) Team/area whiteboard - displays presence/availability information for the people in your team and their location.  Similar to your buddy list but easier to take a quick glance at.  Useful for support teams,  contact centers,  distributed support teams.

4) Another interesting use for this technology could be for making Livemeeting or collaboration sessions easier.  Start off with a webcam and voice conversation and drag your applications,  photos or videos onto the 'caller' in order to send it to him/her

5) Place someone's business card on the surface and it displays their picture,  emails and IM conversations you have had with them and allows you to call them.  I have a pile of business cards in my folder of people I want to communicate with but don't want to put into my phone.  I currently take a picture of their business card and put it in OneNote (where is OCRs the text), but this would be better

6) Adapting the concierge idea,  you could have details of local restaurants, bars etc listed and drag them to your phone.  Alternatively,  you could phone the restaurant directly from the table using either your mobile a the device or something built into the table.

A number of these are already available in different forms but its important to remember that part of the advancement in communications technology is not always about reinventing the wheel,  its about making it easier to use.

Post a comment on how you think this could help people communicate better and easier and I will do my best to pass the ideas onto the Microsoft Surface team 🙂 .... you never know ... your idea might actually turn into a hit !

Comments (2)

  1. Anonymous says:

    yeah and remember the state of that invaders table after a few short weeks in the Pub – blimey.

    it’s a great demo but I think there’s a whole heap of questions to ask about realworld 1.0 usage

  2. Susanne says:

    Here are my ideas:

    Use it to as a strategy table for senior military personnel when planning missions.

    Use the table to take patient x-rays and records so that doctors and surgeons can prep for operations and run through simulated surgical procedures to predict outcomes.

    Similar to the demo on the Surface website. You could go to a restaurant, login to the table so that it pulls up a record of your allergies or your diet plan so that the restaurant menu only shows you what you can eat. It’s a real pain for people I know to sit there disecting the menu usually and it would be a real USP.

    Use as a Tourist Information board to plan routes, find local venues where you can make bookings. You can pull up your account settings so that the ‘table’ can predict where you would like to go.

    Engage with those who have disabilities that have prevented them using existing technology. Using pictures, users can select words and pictures to converse with others and work productively.

    Why not use the table just to log on (OWA meets XP Embedded style?) so that you can sit in your local coffee house without a PC and work away. The table can also work in favour of the coffee house so that when you place your drink on the table it works out what you’ve drunk/eaten and stores it for the next time you log in.

    Or… just use it as an overgrown Space Invaders/ Pong game like we used to in the 80’s. Expensive technology for the simple things! Think of the fun! 🙂

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