The Beginnings Of Microsoft Surface Technology Computer Science Essay

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Microsoft Surface represents a fundamental change in the way we interact with digital content. With Surface, we can actually grab data with our hands, and move information between objects with natural gestures and touch. It turns ordinary table pc, laptop into vibrant and interactive pcs. It provides extensive interaction by gestures, touch and object recognitions. It provides new paradigm of working, with multiuser support.


Microsoft Surface (project code name Milan) is a multi-touch product from Microsoft which is developed as software and hardware combination technology that allows a user, or multiple users, to manipulate digital content by the use of gesture recognition. This could involve the motion of hands or physical objects. It was announced on May 29, 2007 at D5 conference. Targeted customers are in the hospitality businesses, such as restaurants, hotels, retail, public entertainment venues and the military for tactical overviews.

Multi-touch surface:-

Multi-touch surfaces allow for a device to recognize two or more simultaneous touches by more than one user. Some have the ability to recognize objects by distinguishing between the differences in pressure and temperature of what is placed on the surface. Depending on the size and applications installed in the surface, two or more people can be doing different or independent applications on the device. Multi-touch computing is the direct manipulation of virtual objects, pages, and images allowing you to swipe, pinch, grab, rotate, type, and command them eliminating the need for a keyboard and a mouse. Everything can be done with our finger tips.


An Idea Inspired by Cross-Division Collaboration In 2001, Stevie Bathiche of Microsoft Hardware and Andy Wilson of Microsoft Research began working together on various projects that took advantage of their complementary expertise in the areas of hardware and software. In one of their regular brainstorm sessions, they started talking about an idea for an interactive table that could understand the manipulation of physical pieces. Although there were related efforts happening in academia, Bathiche and Wilson saw the need for a product where the interaction was richer and more intuitive, and at the same time practical for everyone to use. This conversation was the beginning of an idea that would later result in the development of Surface, and over the course of the following year, various people at Microsoft involved in developing new product concepts, including the gaming, continued to think through the possibilities and feasibility of the project. Then in October 2001 a virtual team was formed to fully pursue bringing the idea to the next stage of development; Bathiche and Wilson were key members of the team.

Humble Beginnings on an IKEA Table:-

In early 2003, the team presented the idea to Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman, in a group review. Gates instantly liked the idea and encouraged the team to continue to develop their thinking. The virtual team expanded, and within a month, through constant discussion and brainstorming, the first humble prototype was born and nicknamed T1.The model was based on an IKEA table with a hole cut in the top and a sheet of architect vellum used as a diffuser. The evolution of Surface had begun. A variety of early applications were also built, including pinball, a photo browser and a video puzzle. As more applications were developed, the team saw the value of the surface computer beyond simply gaming and began to favor those applications that took advantage of the unique ability of Surface to recognize physical objects placed on the table. The team was also beginning to realize that surface computing could be applied to a number of different embodiments and form factors. Over the next year, the team grew significantly, including the addition of Nigel Keam, initially software development lead and later architect for Surface, who was part of the development team eventually tasked with taking the product from prototype to a shipping product. Surface prototypes, functionality and applications were continually refi-ned. More than 85 early prototypes were built for use by software developers, hardware developers and user researchers.

Hardware Design:-

By late 2004, the software development platform of Surface was well-established and attention turned to the form factor. A number of different experimental prototypes were built including "the tub" model, which was encased in a rounded plastic shell, a desk-height model with a square top and cloth-covered sides, and even a bar-height model that could be used while standing. After extensive testing and user research, the final hardware design (seen today) was finalized in 2005. Also in 2005, Wilson and Bathiche introduced the concept of surface computing in a paper for Gates' twice-yearly "Think Week," a time Gates takes to evaluate new ideas and technologies for the company.

Technical Aspects:-

These all have the same basic framework using cameras to sense objects, hand gestures, and touch. The user input is then processed and displayed on the surface using rear projection. The following is a diagram of the Microsoft Surface (Figure B) and an explanation of the parts. 1) Screen: The Surface has an acrylic tabletop which a diffuser makes capable of processing multiple inputs from multiple users. Objects can also be recognized by their shapes or reading coded tags. 2) Infrared: Infrared light is projected onto the underside of the diffuser. Objects or fingers are visible through the diffuser by series of infrared-sensitive cameras which are positioned underneath the surface of the tabletop. 3) CPU - This is similar to a regular desktop. The underlying operating system is a modified version of Microsoft Vista. 4) Projector - The Surface uses the same DLP light engine in many rear-projection tvs.


Surface is a 30-inch (76 cm) display in a table-like form factor, 22 inches (56 cm) high, 21 inches (53 cm) deep, and 42 inches (107 cm) wide. The Surface tabletop is acrylic, and its interior frame is powder-coated steel. The software platform runs on a custom version of Windows Vista and has wired Ethernet 10/100, wireless 802.11 b/g, and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity.[14] Surface applications are written using either Windows Presentation Foundation or Microsoft XNA technology. At Microsoft's MSDN Conference, Bill Gates told developers of "Maximum" setup the Microsoft Surface was going to have: * Intel Core Quad Xeon "Woodcrest" @ 2.66 GHz with a custom motherboard form factor about the size of two ATX motherboard * 4GB DDR2-1066 RAM * 1TB 7200RPM Hard Drive The current commercially available version has the following specifications: * Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.13 * 2GB DDR2 RA * 250GB SATA Hard Drive


Microsoft notes four main components being important in Surface's interface: direct interaction, multi-touch contact, a multi-user experience, and object recognition. Direct interaction refers to the user's ability to simply reach out and touch the interface of an application in order to interact with it, without the need for a mouse or keyboard. Multi-touch contact refers to the ability to have multiple contact points with an interface, unlike with a mouse, where there is only one cursor. Multi-user is a benefit of multi-touch-several people can orient themselves on different sides of the surface to interact with an application simultaneously. Object recognition refers to the device's ability to recognize the presence and orientation of tagged objects placed on top of it. The technology allows non-digital objects to be used as input devices. In one example, a normal paint brush was used to create a digital painting in the software. This is made possible by the fact that, in using cameras for input, the system does not rely on restrictive properties required of conventional touch screen or touchpad devices such as the capacitance, electrical resistance, or temperature of the tool used .The computer's "vision" is created by a near-infrared, 850-nanometer-wavelength LED light source aimed at the surface. When an object touches the tabletop, the light is reflected to multiple infrared cameras with a net resolution of 1024 x 768, allowing it to sense, and react to items touching the tabletop. Surface will ship with basic applications, including photos, music, virtual concierge, and games, that can be customized for the customers. A unique feature that comes preinstalled with Surface is the pond effect "Attract" application. Simply, it is a "picture" of water with leaves and rocks within it (a lot like a screen saver used in Windows XP or Vista). By touching the screen, users can create ripples in the water, much like a real stream. Additionally, the pressure of touch alters the size of the ripple created, and objects placed into the water create a barrier that ripples bounce off, just as they would in real life.

Advantages of MS surface from Educational point of view:-

􀂙 The administration of a classroom can be improved by reducing the amount of time a teacher spends fulfilling paperwork requirements alone, such as test taking and scoring. The tests could be included in each student's desktop and automatically recorded and scored. 􀂙 The teacher's desktop could have the ability to look at each student's desktop from their desk and take control if necessary. This can be used to help a student having trouble or to verify that the student is staying on task. 􀂙 Also, teachers would have the ability to send presentations to any or all desktops eliminating the need for print outs and copies. 􀂙 A chat system like IM could be set up so that the teacher could send a private note to a student during a class exercise without bringing attention to the student whether it is positive or negative. 􀂙 If a problem occurred on one Surface, that student could move to another student's desk and work along with them until theirs was fixed. 􀂙 By engaging the students and combining both the audio and visual aspects in every lesson plan, we have a better chance of reaching every student and increasing the percentage of information retained. 􀂙 Students will be able to work in groups at one desktop Surface. This would make the construction of projects easier. Also, students will be able to work on class assignments together or help each other and sometimes students are able to learn and understand better when the information is delivered or reiterated from their peers in a more creative fashion

Applications development: - Microsoft Surface applications can be written in Windows Presentation Foundation or XNA. The development process is much like normal Vista development, but custom WPF controls had to be created by the Surface team due to the unique interface of Surface. Developers already proficient in WPF can utilize the SDK to write Surface apps for deployments for the large hotels, casinos, and restaurants. Conclusion: - What I would like to see happen is each student's desk top be replaced by a multi-touch technology similar to the Microsoft Surface. I feel we need to find ways to keep up with the rapidly growing world of technology and integrate it into our classrooms or our students are going to surpass us and figure out ways to do things better and faster at home on their own personal computer. With Microsoft Surface the opportunities are endless with the ability to create custom applications for specific businesses or educational purposes or building packaged applications for use across a range of industries or schools.