Exploring the design and capabilities of the new Surface Dial

We’ve focused recently on sharing the behind the scenes stories of our Surface devices family, from the Surface Pro 4 to the Surface Hub and much more in between.

Today, we switch gears to pay tribute to our new input accessory, the Surface Dial. Principal Group Program Manager, Vineet Thuvara, from the team that built the Surface Pen, returns to Microsoft Mechanics to share the story behind Surface Dial's design and capabilities.

On-screen and off-screen use

You may recognize the Dial from the Surface Studio ads. It provides an invaluable aide to your workflow, that can be used with your free hand to give you easy access to shortcuts, controls, drawing tools, and more for fluid and natural interaction with your applications.

You can even use it off-screen with any current Windows 10 device with Bluetooth. It’s capable of speeding up every-day tasks whether you use it to control volume, navigate your favorite music app, or engage with your favorite productivity apps.


On-screen, Surface Studio’s PixelSense display and custom digitizer recognizes the presence and location of the Dial with pinpoint accuracy. Applications can be written to provide custom immersive experiences with Surface Dial using Surface Dial’s programmable interfaces.


Precision Instrument

Underpinning the dial, as Vineet demonstrates, is precision technology. Rotation is calculated in real-time by using sensors and LED light reflections inside the Dial, calibrated to give 3600 points of precision.


The haptic motor is engineered to allow application developers the option to add the sense of click ‘detents’, which help users to feel their way to menu items and controls without looking.


These are just a few highlights of Surface Dial’s design and capabilities. Watch Vineet's 5-minute overview to learn more. As Vineet notes, we have only just started to explore Surface Dial’s ability to re-invent the way that you interact with technology. We are looking forward to seeing more examples of application experiences as developers leverage Dial’s distinct APIs. Learn more about the Surface Dial here.

You can also watch the full series on the design and management of Surface devices here at Microsoft Mechanics, and follow us on Twitter at @MSFTMechanics.

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