We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,259 News Articles

Microsoft's 10 most interesting research projects

These tools could hitting a PC near you soon

Research and development plays a huge part in the tools and techniques we'll see in the future. We've taken a look at 10 Microsoft research projects to see how we'll benefit in years to come.

Codename: Surface

Microsoft Surface is now becoming a viable product that is extensible with customised software such as photo viewers and extra games. The device, which is about the size of a card table, is not sold directly to consumers. Instead, it's sold to companies such as AT&T and Sheraton Hotels who use it in their lobby or as an attention getting conversation starter.

These 'partners' can request custom interfaces and programs, or develop their own. Surface is made of a hard acrylic material that can withstand a lot of abuse. At a Harrah's iBar in Las Vegas, for example, people spill drinks and food on it all evening.

Up to 52 people could crowd around a Surface table and control their corner of the interface, although it's usually a two- or four-user experience.

"It was interesting to start with a project in an incubation phase and scale it up and out as a viable product. The application launcher comes with choices, content the customer wants to load. Collaboration is a big part, it has object recognition - it is meant to interact with physical objects.

"There are infrared cameras that look at the surface. We have an optical tagging technology where you can tag items," said a Microsoft researcher.

Microsoft mentioned how, at AT&T, you can place a phone on the table and the features of the phone will appear - more information than the mobile provider could ever list on an in-store sign.

At Sheraton, you can call up a virtual concierge and see maps of the area with theater or restaurant suggestions. Microsoft has also targeted retailers for Surface tables. The basic Surface product retails for $12,500, but there's a volume discount for mass deployment.

NEXT PAGE: Pictionaire

  1. Eagle 1
  2. Surface
  3. Pictionaire
  4. Touch Wall
  5. Paris/Social Streams and LucidTouch
  6. OSLO and Visual Studio 2010
  7. Robotic Receptionist

Visit PC Advisor's dedicated Microsoft News Spotlight for the latest news on the software giant

Visit Broadband Advisor for the latest internet news, reviews, tips & tricks - and to take advantage of PC Advisor's unique, independent Broadband Speed Tester

IDG UK Sites

LG G4 Note UK release date and specification rumours: Samsung Galaxy Note 5 killer could be the LG 3......

IDG UK Sites

In defence of BlackBerrys

IDG UK Sites

Why we should reserve judgement on Apple ditching Helvetica in OS X/iOS for the Apple Watch's San...

IDG UK Sites

Retina 3.3GHz iMac 27in preview: Apple cuts £400 off Retina iMac with new model