And I know I'm not the only one
To ever spend my life sitting playing future games
~Fleetwood Mac, Future Games.
When Microsoft released Microsoft Surface in 2007, it was easy to dismiss it, a PC the size of a table that cost $10,000. While everyone else was designing smaller and cheaper computing devices, Microsoft was producing a "big ass" table (as one parody of the first Surface promotional video called it). But what if the Surface table was just the beginning of the experiment, not the end? What if the table represented Microsoft's future vision of computing in general, not a one-off lab experiment marketed to the rich?
Microsoft's Future Vision
When I came across this video last week, a montage of Microsoft's possible computing future, I began to put it together and I was definitely surprised (Go ahead and watch, then come back and I'll explain why).
While the video is clearly promotional in nature, and uses plenty of movie magic to illustrate the vision, you can see how the functionality that we first saw on the Surface table could be extended out to every aspect of of our computing lives, and on devices of every size from smart credit cards to smart "newspapers" to intelligent shopping carts, that is if the vision is ever fulfilled.
Election Night Magic
You may recall on election that the networks used Surface functionality to show voting patterns and to drill down graphically through various demographics to see exactly how Obama or McCain had won or lost a particular state. It was fascinating to watch, but it also showed how these computers could be used in a real business setting. Picture having a similar level of functionality in a conference room (as the montage video showed) and using the surface to illustrate points in a meeting on a display wall using just your finger.
Who knows whether this vision will ever come to pass or if it will be relegated to the Microsoft dust-bin of history with Bob and Windows ME (or dare I say Vista). Already it seems to have had a bigger impact than those three ever did, but it remains to be seen whether Microsoft can develop the tools to move this technology from the realm of science fiction and into our conference rooms and living rooms and even in our pockets.
But it goes to show that there is some interesting research going on behind those walls in Redmond inside a big a company with deep pockets, and you never know what's going to come from it.