"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.