Touch

May 30, 2007 10:58pm

"Sigh… What an incredible innovation!" wrote an entrepreneur we know–with just a touch of sarcasm. 

Microsoft made a splash with its "Surface" tabletop screen Wednesday, but what got lost in the hoopla is that it’s late to the party.    The "Surface" is seriously cool, no question about it.  Instead of carefully moving things around with a cursor, you use  your fingers–all ten if them if you like. 

Want to blow up a picture?  Widen it with your hand.  Want to make a virtual  sculpture?  Shape it as you wish.  But Jeff Han, a very bright computer scientist from New York University, showed off a similar system at the TED  Conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design) in February 2006, and his presentation was remarkable.  If you have nine  minutes, and have never seen it, you just have to watch.  It’s HERE. (Han has started his own firm.)

And there’s another version from a firm called TouchTable; it also predates Microsoft’s announcement by a couple of years. If any of these entities are linked, we don’t know about them. What Microsoft does very well is take such ideas and spread them.  I have seen the future, and you have to touch it to  believe it.

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