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Show ALL Forums  > Technology/Computers  > Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?      Home login  
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 akaMrSmith
Joined: 11/21/2007
Msg: 1
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?Page 1 of 2    (1, 2)
Has anyone had a close look at Microsoft’s new Surface computing devices? It looks like a coffee table, ie a flat screen with legs, it is to be used in restaurants, airports, hotels, etc. I have not seen one in real life as yet but I have looked at the promotional clips on their web site. In a restaurant for example it can display all the information about the wine you ordered, its year, grape, price, etc. In a hotel you can scan a photo and send it as a postcard via e-mail. It was descried to me yesterday as a computer like the one Tom Cruse used in Minority Report, having never seen the film I thought about the computer Robert Downey Jr. used in Ironman, similar from the point that it scans hand movement for inputting commands but Microsoft’s is 2D whereas the machine in Ironman is 3D. Is this the first step in 3D computing? Why have MS not added 3D functionality that would allow a users hands to control the device even if the users hands were above the screen rather than in contact with the screen? Does anyone know what platform is used on this device? MS are looking for engineers to work on it that have an open source background which suggests to me that’s its not Vista or anything like it. It looks to me like the next format of computer, something that I haven’t seen since Clive Sinclair released the ZX80. Any thoughts/ideas where this might lead?
 bluebeam
Joined: 3/1/2008
Msg: 2
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Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/4/2008 3:36:12 AM
A few companies are already offering tablets that are multi-touch capable (based on a different technology), but they are over priced and there just isn't a lot of software out there right now for the average consumer... it's right around the corner though.

The promotional clip for Microsoft's Surface Computing does not remind me of the screens in minority report... (Op, just to fill ya in since you haven't seen the movie, the user didn't have to touch the screen.)
That's here too...
check this out
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtLX52z4kPU&feature=related
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLhMVNdplJc&NR=1
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtLX52z4kPU&feature=related

I had a cool link to a video that explain the technology behind the input where you don't even have to touch the screen (light sensors), but lost it.

As far as 3d... oh man, you don't even know! There is a bad ass video floating around out there that I can't find right now... but it is a presentation about software that can search (the internet) for photos that are tagged with whatever you tell it to... then it takes all of those photos and puts them together to make a 3 dimensional photo that can be rotated in ALL directions. In the presentation, the guy used "16th chappel" as an example. Once individual's photos were all put together, he could virtually walk around and inside the 16th chapel while looking in all directions.

You ask, "Why have MS not added 3D functionality that would allow a users hands to control the device even if the users hands were above the screen rather than in contact with the screen"... I'm not sure that it doesn't. This is not the exact same technology as a multi-touch screen on a tablet pc (or the iphone)... this uses five separate cameras to record motion on the table's surface. If you have to literally touch the table, it is because the "view' of the cameras is very limited... I would say that this is to keep the input specific (new users will make lots of mistakes, keep it simple for them), and probably increases speed.

You write, "Does anyone know what platform is used on this device? MS are looking for engineers to work on it that have an open source background which suggests to me that’s its not Vista or anything like it"
The operating system for the Microsoft's surface is Vista and has not been changed in anyway... the multi-touch tablets (different technology, but multi-input is what is important in this discussion) also have Vista as thier operating system. However, with the Surface, they have a code basically running in conjuction that is specific to each project. Since thier customers right now are restruants, casinos, hotels, ect, each one needs specific code for its individual user (new applications to be written.) That may have been the need for the engineers, but I don't know what you are exactly talking about... umm, open source background... well, new toy needs new applications.

This is on thier site: "Object Recognition: Users can place physical objects on the display to trigger different types of digital responses; in the future, this will include the ability to transfer digital content" In the video, the table "knows" what phone the customer has when he lays it on the table. That's referring to the item having a specific "tag"... it's really cool, but only if it becomes popular.

The table will auto-detect bluetooth devices... i.e. it can automatically pick up a bluetooth camera and put the pictures on the screen. sweet.

According to thier site, there is one in my city or coming to my city... I'm going to go look for it.
 rconiv
Joined: 7/19/2006
Msg: 3
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/4/2008 8:50:13 PM
Saw one the other day, they have it out on demo at one of the microsoft locations that I went to for a meeting. The os looked something like vista though modified a lot. Was cool with the screen saver, it was a pond, and if you tapped the screen it would make little waves. Didn't get a chance to check out the actual interface outside of that though, only had a couple seconds to play on it.
 satsumo
Joined: 12/7/2007
Msg: 4
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/8/2008 12:18:20 PM
Before you start getting over excited. The thing in the iron man film is a very long way from reality.

The surface works by having a camera look at the underneath of the table top. All it sees is a 2d image, blackness and the tips of your fingers. Its easy for a computer to figure out where your finger tip is against that simple black background.

To create a table that you could wave your hands above would require the computer to have a visual processing capability far greater than anything possible at the moment. They aren't even 10% of the way there.

Even if they used something like a radar or depth scanner, instead of a camera, the data is far too complex to understand in realtime. The only 3D tracking sytems we have now rely sensor devices. Either in an object held by the user (something like a mouse or pen) or in a glove worn by the user.

To summarise, computers just can't see.
 akaMrSmith
Joined: 11/21/2007
Msg: 5
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/9/2008 11:08:16 AM
Computers cant see, your right about that. Computers can do nothing more than simple calculations.
Keep in mind that computers can do visual recognition, something Ive worked with since '94, most industrial robots use visual recognition to see what their are doing. So a computer can be programmed to recognise a human hand and the position of its fingers using visual recognition. Why did MS not use this tried and tested technology? Is anyone using it commercially?
No need for a mouse or keyboard would mean a much neater unit with less to go wrong. What if this was combined with a VR headset instead of a monitor? Is this available anywhere?
 satsumo
Joined: 12/7/2007
Msg: 6
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/9/2008 4:42:18 PM

computers can do visual recognition, something Ive worked with since '94

Then you know more about that than I do. I also work with 3D control systems, but not visual ones. What I understood was that computer visual recognition relies on having a limited set of possible inputs.

An industrial robot can only recognise whatever objects it knows about, the set of things that it needs to work with. If a cat were to suddenly walk into its view, it would just not understand it. I have no idea how well a computer can understand hands and fingers visually, is it sufficiently reliable? Is it cheap?

Hands are complex things, lots of overlapping and changing shape. Little hands, big hands, black or white hands, people holding hands, people with things in their hands (knives, forks, glasses etc.).

I have only ever heard of one two system that claims to be able to visually capture human motion. They are very recent developments, I have no idea how well they work or what their constraints are.
 Bayotle
Joined: 4/21/2008
Msg: 7
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/9/2008 5:06:14 PM
Touch screens have been around almost since the dawn of time. They're nothing more than a bunch of small LED's shooting a matrix of light across the face of the CRT , when an object breaks a beam of light it can determine it's location. And touch screen is slightly inaccurate since you dont actually have to touch the screen just break the beam of light. You can purchase an add-on for a monitor for maybe $100 that will let you adopt just about any monitor for touch screen use. They come with a mouse driver and work the same way. Tap the screen twice and you have a mouse click.

The so called 'new technology' from M$ isn't so new. Theres just more horse power available to be able to handle the intense graphics and processing required. Apples Iphone/IPod etc could never have been accomplished a few years ago because the power to handle graphics like they do wasn't available at least not at a cost most consumers could afford. The original PC didn't have enough power to push a series of block characters across the screen without it taking several seconds, that same application on todays systems would happen faster than the blink of an eye - even with M$'s poor programming abilities. And after all my years in the computer field (over 30 years), I've yet to see M$ come up with anything new other than putting a new face on the same old programs....
 akaMrSmith
Joined: 11/21/2007
Msg: 8
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/10/2008 12:50:00 AM
It would be simple to program a camera to recognise whether any individual finger is straight or bent, a bent finger representing a key press. Two cameras, even cheap web cams could be used for greater accuracy. Web cams can also track movement which could be used for mouse functionality. The hardware to do this is available and has being for some years now so it is cheap, less than €50 but the software would have to be coded.
Imagine placing your hands in front of a PC and as you do a virtual keyboard and mouse appear on the screen, as you move your fingers from straight to bent you press a key on the virtual keyboard. This would have to have a graphical representation on the screen also enabling the user to move their hands accurately across the virtual keyboard. To alternate between keyboard and mouse one would simply change the position of all the fingers on one hand to mimic the shape of a hand as it holds a mouse. The web cams can be programmed to recognise these hand shapes, known in visual recognition as ‘known good models’ and perform different functions with each programmed model. This technology on the hardware side has being available to the public for years now, only the software is needed.
A 3D monitor is also technically possible but would involve using piezoceramic motors (used in auto focus in cameras), light filters and lasers, none of which are very cheap at the moment and it would require R&D. It is technically possible but the technology is expensive as it would require a high degree of accuracy to work. The result would be a see through image similar to a 3D CAD wireframe drawing.
Technically these things are possible.
 Bayotle
Joined: 4/21/2008
Msg: 9
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/10/2008 12:24:45 PM
The tech is available and so is the coding, it's been mainly demo'd in games. As far as practical applications for use on pc's, the hand gesters etc wouldn't work for much more than game playing, well it would work, just not practical. If you've seen SciFi's commercials for one of the so called 'high-tech' gadget sites (junk toys for the uninformed), they show someone sitting at a counter moving her hand/fingers to click and move things. If you think about it, the arm of the person having to do that 8 hours a day would either fall off or be the size of some lonely computer hacker that hasn't had a date in 10 years...
 akaMrSmith
Joined: 11/21/2007
Msg: 10
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/10/2008 2:03:26 PM
A search found a few thing like that are available, laser keyboards and the like, the two camera system is also available. MS have some research done but never brought it to the market. Pity. Not only are hand gestures recognisable but so too are facial gestures.
So thats just the 3D monitor left on the list. Would it sell?
 Bayotle
Joined: 4/21/2008
Msg: 11
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/10/2008 6:39:20 PM
Not in this day, at least not to the general public, most users struggle with only using 1% of outlook. The tech is moving quick in some areas, but to fast for the general public to deal with it if it's much more than a novelity and cheap...

Face recognition's been used for years, more so now by homeland security to track terrorist, pretty complex system from what i've seen... There are some webcams and software you can install that will log you onto your PC just by facial regonition. Even biometrics has been around for ages, they're now using them in laptops and you can pick up a USB attachment for the pc for under $100... more of a novelty than anything else though...

Technology is interesting to watch develope...
Laptops have been around for ages but think how long it took them to take the flat display and apply it to it's big brother the desktop ?
 SteelCity1981
Joined: 8/16/2005
Msg: 12
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Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/11/2008 5:02:14 AM
Tell me about it, especially in the pc hardware sector. Things have changed so fast in just a year alone in this sector that if you aren't on the ball on what's going on, you could find yourself compeletly out of step.
 satsumo
Joined: 12/7/2007
Msg: 13
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/11/2008 11:13:20 AM

Things have changed so fast in just a year alone in this sector

Have they though, really? For all the talk of touch and surface, I think PC's are going to stick to the same old mouse and keyboard combination. They are the best control system for the work that people do on a PC.

Surface is a part of a new movement in computing called Ubiqitous computing (or Everyware). The idea is that people no longer consider the interface of the computer they are using, it responds to what they do in real life. The whole point of this is to get past the fact that most people just aren't that good at using computers. They 'struggle to use 1% of outlook' to quote Bayotle.

Generally, I think this is a very good idea. It's time for computer's to stop being boy-toys and deal with the real world. The whole MS paradigm of dumbing it down until nobody can make it do anything is going nowhere.

Making Surface run with Vista is typical MS. You don't need anything like Vista to do what Surface does, 80% of it is superfluous. But they have to push their IP, even if it makes for bad design.
 Bayotle
Joined: 4/21/2008
Msg: 14
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/11/2008 1:41:19 PM
IMO, M$ should be out of business, they're the ones that have stalled advances in the computer industry.

This is so a topic i'd love to rip on but it's also one of those topics i have to say, dont get me started on. I've been in this field well before pc's and have watched it crawl from it's infancy to what it is today, still an infant.

M$ is to be commended for one plus in the industry though.. They've been responsible for the prices dropping and capacity expanding. If it wasn't for their poor programming we'd probably still be running on 4k machines and floppies for storage.

Last i remember, an OS (98/xp/vista etc) was meant to be the interface between the application and the hardware level, not something that used up 99% of the system resources just so you could have pretty wallpaper... I wonder how many users know that Vista is still using code from Windows 1.0????

99, 98, 97, ... 2,1 ... deep breath, ok ranting over
Sooo what's the update on IP v6????
If they would ever get that little issue fixed, we might be able to take another step forward and charter might quit dropping my connection twice a day!
 satsumo
Joined: 12/7/2007
Msg: 15
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/11/2008 4:44:36 PM

This is so a topic i'd love to rip on but it's also one of those topics i have to say, dont get me started on

Go on, have just a little rant. I'm curious about what you think MS have done to hold back computing. I agree, in some ways, I'm wondering if its the same ways as you.
 Bayotle
Joined: 4/21/2008
Msg: 16
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/12/2008 2:05:53 AM
Sorry no time to rant, woke up early figured i'd go install a new router while everyone’s sleeping - that way i can spend the rest of the weekend at the lake

But a quick response would be, the simple fact that their 'so called' OS consumes all but a fraction of the resources on a PC is more than enough reason for me to complain. They leave no room for anyone else to perform their miracles... And i say 'so called' because an OS, by definition is nothing more than the interpreter between the application and the hardware level.. Not a pretty GUI, web browser or anything else, those are again by definition an application and when packaged together with the OS and shoved down the throats of consumers just to make more money is considered bloatware (my daffynition)

But i ask you, what have you seen new from Microsoft since windows 1.0? I mean other than a face lift, a few 'pretty' add-ons and fixes to all the poor coding? Ok, make that 3.11, they added networking... And -100 points if you blame hackers for the poor coding issue, if i had buffer overruns when i was in skool, i'd have flunked out instead of dropped out! And another -100 points if you come up with an ideal they stole or purchased that led to the original company being bought out or put out of business by M$

M$ has the worse business habits in the world, they see something that they may be able to do they steal the ideal, repackage it, then give it away until they drive the originator of the ideal out of business. (did you know windows 1.? and excel was pushed out the door for free if you happened to call them for any reason? – they didn’t even charge postage!) - this type of behavior kills off any chance of innovation, M$ doesn't have the collective brain power to come up with any ideals on their own, ok now i'm starting ... 99,98,97.....

I've been around since before DOS and PC's for that matter, the last thing that i ever remember being excited about an OS was Dos 6.22, when they pop'd the 32Meg drive barrier and fixed their bugs. Nothing spectacular but was nice that the coding limitations were removed.

Everyone has their visions for what the future should bring, which, is how it should be, for some it's an ink jet printer that can actually build a working, beating, human heart (this is being done btw), for others, it's looking at pretty backgrounds... Stomping out competition, for the topic at hand, holds back the industry. I'm not impressed by what i've seen and calling Bill Gates a visionary is simply a joke, just like the 'pie in the face' . My bad, that would make 2 interesting moments in the M$ history books! Bill Gate is a great entrepreneur, not a visionary.. Wow, i have gui.... will wonders never cease???

Oh and before you dismiss me as a linus (pun intended) fan, I’m not, I’m educated in all areas of M$ garbage and support their products because that’s my job. I believe business should make money and profits, but I also believe in ethics, both in person and in business, I have no respect for the work they do or how they conduct business. Consumers should be #1 above all else, M$ seems to have forgotten that – to bad rapping consumers isn’t punishable by prison terms…

I know, I know, off topic!

And on that note, I'mmmm outta here!

--- edit ---
Guess i had time to rant after all!!!
 akaMrSmith
Joined: 11/21/2007
Msg: 17
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/12/2008 4:35:47 AM
I been banging away with computers since '83 and I remember all the OS's too. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of DOS. DOS was different to windows but since windows came in it hasnt changed much. It is more colourful now :) and XP doesnt crash to much. What else has MS done for computers? OK they made them more colourful. I got a phone call last week asking me if I would be interested in working with MS on their new surface computing. I had never even heard of it and asked what it was. I hung up the phone thinking they had a computer that allowed hand movements to control the OS. Not quite the case, its nothing more than a touch screen. WOW that’s new, well done MS. The last project I worked on was a computer mouse for blind people, that was different and exciting but a 2D touch screen? How boring and how MS.

Why do users still have to use the traditional interface? The technology is available for a real 3D interface, not a virtual 3D interface ie a 3D image on a 2D surface. The keyboard and mouse can easily be replaced with a couple of webcams adding functionality and making the machine easier to use for anyone that knows very little about computers which seems to be about 90-95% of people. Mount the cams in a pair of sunglasses with an LCD replacing the lens, two LCD’s displaying slightly different images and hey presto a 3D monitor and visual recognition to replace the keyboard and mouse. All the parts are available both on the hardware and software side, they just need to be put together in the one package.
 Mixtape_Obsessive
Joined: 4/15/2008
Msg: 18
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/12/2008 4:55:07 AM
I've played with one of the MS surface tables at work. They are quite handy for collaborative work, although I have been to a few conferences on tactile 3d navigation interfaces which will blow MS surface computing outta the water once they hit the market. The ease of use of the MS product cannot be underestimated in an HCI sense though as I can imagine the drag-drop interface it uses relates to what people do in everyday life.
 SteelCity1981
Joined: 8/16/2005
Msg: 19
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Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/12/2008 6:09:42 AM

Have they though, really?


It terms of newer standards and diff types of hardware and performance increases, yes.

I mean, you look at intel chipsets for example alone and how much they have changed in just the past year or the new Cores that they have produced in that time span.
 Bayotle
Joined: 4/21/2008
Msg: 20
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/12/2008 6:54:07 AM
Intel should be commended for the improvements in the industry, it's to bad M$ has once again found a way to make them crawl at a snails pace...

And sounds like most in here agree with me, which is new to me, i'm not sure how to act!!

I so remember the early days cause my puters better than yours!
Thinking back on the good ol days, at this point in life, it really didn't matter, they were all crap!
 sanjoran
Joined: 7/28/2008
Msg: 21
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/12/2008 8:48:37 AM
didn't this idea get blown out of the water on Dragon's Den?

Queston for UK PoFers there I think....
 satsumo
Joined: 12/7/2007
Msg: 22
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/13/2008 4:08:12 AM

It terms of newer standards and diff types of hardware and performance increases

You're talking about under the hood stuff. The 'average' user dosen't really care about that, just as long as their PC is fast enough. I was thinking of user interface related development. It seems to crawl along like a snail with low blood sugar.

Touch is appearing though its only really going to catch on with phones and the like, things that you touched anyway. Hmm, maybe someone will invent a touchscreen keyboard. I don't believe it's going to be how people use their PC, I could be wrong.

Even in processors, Intel are just finding better ways to multiply the number of cores. The only novel thing has been Cell. The interesting thing is that getting more speed needs people to change how they program, program design is the issue now.

That and the move to web based applications.
 Bayotle
Joined: 4/21/2008
Msg: 23
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/13/2008 9:55:40 AM
True most users dont care how it gets done as long as it gets done but the under the hood stuff as you call it is the basis for everything, the speed, experience et al. Without a proper foundation the building crumbles, as with M$'s poor coding. It doesn't matter how great your programs are, if the base is faulty, so is your program. The proper course of action is to properly repair the foundation, not to just throw more patches onto it and hope it stands up. M$'s reasoning is simple, make it look different, get people to pay for it, then use the sales to help fix it. Consumers dont realize that they are buying essentially the same OS over and over with just patches applied to it, they may say it's a complete rebuild but if you ask me, that just means they've recompiled the same old crap code. Look at the user interface, not since Windows xp(?) has the interface changed. We've gone from a series of boxes to a start button...

As far as touch, it's been there, a simple device hung over your monitor will turn it into touch, it's been in the industry for eons, more used in the industrial area. As far as touch, in a production environment (office workers) i cant see it ever catching on outside of McDonalds (yes i know that's not an office environment!). I dont know about you but holding my arm up all day and pointing to work would be a killer. Phones on the other hand are the best implementation for it. But again, that's been around for years, the palm devices use touch screens and i know i've had mine probably 15 years now? Again to me, it's nothing new.

Not that it would state of the art, but for me, a great interface would be ocular control. Simply looking at the screen and being able to control it (even if just slightly)
Say you were reading and the system would know when you've reached the bottom and simply scroll up... It could even determine the rate at which you read and simply scroll the screen at a comfortable pace. no need for a keyboard or mouse. Simply looking at a button that said next/back/save whatever would activate that function, or to avoid confusion, requiring a blink as a mouse click... The tech is there, implementation is not. I know i would buy into it, just like now, i so hate having to sit back up to scroll the page constantly! I've trained myself to rely on the keyboard and avoid the mouse as much as possible. I've had issues with my wrist over the years that has come from constantly reaching to grasp it, then swing back to the keyboard, using something as simple as an ocular control would remove a lot of injuries related to these old interfaces.

Processors are maxing out in density, they theorized the maximum density they could acheive and i believe they're either there or dayum close. This only leaves one option (until the next mfg breakthrough occurs) and that is to expand on functionality, more processors, larger cache, more optimized coding and more features.

Not exactly sure what you're referring to when you mentioned web based applications?

Just a starter, the net is a dangerous place and any data transfer over it leaves one open to information theft. These so called online backup sites scare the hell out of me. How many people unknowingly transmit financial data? Not to mention Quicken/Quickbooks online backup! There are so many avenues already open for information theft now and for users to willingly give that information to someone else is beyond my comprehension. Then you have application control which is one of M$'s babies. They want to control all aspects of their software, it will turn into a model where you will purchase access rights to use the software, you will no longer own the software and M$ will have the right to terminate your use of the software whenever they choose. If you have an old pc that runs 98 and you have no desire/need to upgrade, they can simply terminate your license and you will be forced to upgrade your hardware and software to whatever is current (bad example but you get the point). Then we have application such as Trixbox which was open source then purchased by Fonality. Another issue that scares the %^&* out of me. This is/was an open source project supported by the community, when purchased by Fonality they made major changes to the code and began selling it. I have no problem with this, companies deserve to get paid for their work, but doing some digging around I found they create vpn access into the PBX to download information on usage, configuration and to make changes to your system. These VPN's can/do allow full access into a local area network. They say it's not a security issue but i beg to differ. Even at the highest level of security, it only takes 1 person to breach security. Another issue not to get me started on - i've brought my concerns to them and they were over looked and ignored. The part that really concerns me is all these boxes are being put into unsuspecting businesses by resellers that are either not informing the consumer or not explaining the security risk they pose. At some point someone is going to breach security and take out a lot of companies that never knew the breach existed or was misinformed of the possible side effects.

Ok, i need a nap...
 SteelCity1981
Joined: 8/16/2005
Msg: 24
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Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/13/2008 3:53:05 PM

You're talking about under the hood stuff. The 'average' user dosen't really care about that, just as long as their PC is fast enough


your right the avg user may not care, but it's wants under the hood that makes it possible for pc's to run fast.
 satsumo
Joined: 12/7/2007
Msg: 25
Surface computing, the first step to 3D computing?
Posted: 10/15/2008 5:51:42 AM
Yes, the hardware is the thing that makes it fast but people are only concerned about that because the software (mostly the OS) is so good at running slowly. Given what a Surface does, I'd guess you could probably run it off a 486, if its software was written effectively (ie. not using Vista).

Occular control would drive me mad. Oops, I got some dust in my eye and now its shutdown Firefox, started Notepad and is typing shakespeare. I'd like intelligent voice control, like in Star Trek. To say 'search for tickets for Carmen in Manchester' and have it start a browser, and submit 'Carmen in Manchester' to my favourite search engine. When windows pops up the irritating 'You have unplugged a USB device' message, I'd like to say 'Whatever' and have it go away. It's not going to happen anytime soon though.

Bayotle's response pretty much covered what I meant by web base applications, 'Cloud computing' as it's called by the buzzword people. I have similar concerns over the safety and reliability of it. I'd rather see collaborative applications, where many people can work on data at the same time across a network. Indeed, that's what I'm working on right now (or as soon as I get of this site anyway).
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