Saturday, December 27, 2008

Scratching The Surface

I have to say that going grocery shopping this morning was…well, not a pleasure, exactly, but certainly much more pleasant than usual: minimal crowds, hardly anyone getting in my way, and pretty much the bare minimum of crying/screaming children.
(Crying/screaming children are pretty much a given in any public space.)
I’m not sure if it was because people are all shopped out, are still off visiting family, or if it was just a fluke, but whatever the cause, I was happy with the effect.
After getting home and putting everything away I watched TV for a while, ate lunch, and took a nap.
Then I got up and…honestly, I’m not sure what I did. I guess I watched more TV.
Meh, it doesn’t really matter.
Eventually it occurred to me that I should probably write a blog entry.
So here we are.
In my entry about seeing The Day The Earth Stood Still I mentioned that significant portions of the movie seemed like a commercial for Microsoft Surface, and I said that I had some more thoughts on Surface that I would post in an entry.
Today the prophecy will be fulfilled.
If you haven’t clicked on the link above, Surface is a multi-touch screen technology developed by Microsoft that, honestly, is pretty damned cool, especially for Microsoft.
Microsoft began publicizing Surface at around the same time that Apple released the iPhone, so naturally it was met with a lot of jeers by Apple fanboys, including some parody videos, which essentially boiled down to “You can’t carry it in your pocket!” and “It can cost as much as $10,000!”
Both of these things are true, but to the first one I say, “So what?” Are you suggesting that every technology has to be pocket-sized in order to be useful or cool? Really? Okay, well, you’ve got your iPhone, so I suggest you get rid of your TV, your MacBook, your DVD player, and anything else that won’t fit in your pocket. Apparently you don’t need them and they suck.
Honestly, don’t be a retard. If you can’t see the possibilities of such a technology, you’re the one with the problem.
As for the second point, yes, Surface products are ridiculously expensive, but what new technology isn’t? Browse the Web sometime and see how much a hard drive cost back in, say, 1987.
For that matter, there are still flat panel TVs that can cost as much or more than Surface.
Beyond that, in its initial deployment, Surface isn’t really intended for home use. The target markets are for commercial uses, such as information kiosks at retail outlets, and in the hotel and gaming industries.
Here’s a demo of one of the commercial applications of Surface:

(More videos can be seen by following the link above)
Undoubtedly over time the technology will, in one form or another, find its way into consumer level devices and have a much friendlier price tag.
While some of the demo videos I’ve seen have shown off some of the creative potential of Surface, such as “finger painting,” I haven’t seen anything indicating that Microsoft has any plans to develop Surface specifically for graphic design and image editing, but it’s my hope that they will.
It would be seriously cool to have Surface in a drafting table form factor running a version of Photoshop designed specifically for the Surface interface. My mind boggles at some of the possibilities: using real paintbrushes whose real-world effects are simulated on-screen, keeping a “stack” or images off to the side and sliding them over to your workspace for editing, having the ability to mix colors on a virtual palette…the list goes on.
So, yeah. The possibilities of Surface are extremely appealing. And, again, it pretty much amazes me that it was Microsoft that came up with this product. Not that they’re alone in this. I’m sure Apple intends to do more with multi-touch screens than what they’re doing right now, and I know there are other companies working on similar technologies.
Despite the fact that I think it’s cool, the lengthy commercials for Surface in The Day The Earth Stood Still were pretty obnoxious and obtrusive.
And don’t take this as being an extended commercial for the product, or me shilling for Microsoft. I’m sure they will, as has been the case with pretty much every product they’ve ever developed, find some way to totally cock it up.
Even so, I just find the product and the concept genuinely interesting.
Anyway, that filled up an entry pretty quickly.

1 comment:

Merlin T Wizard said...

The Day the Earth Stood Still was nothing compared to Something of Boris. Surface was all over that movie. I think it got as much screen time as Judi Dench.