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[DT] MS Gets Touchy-Feely With TouchWall

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Quote:
Microsoft loves to touch and it thinks you will too


Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates got some hand time with a snazzy new creation, the TouchWall, which he debuted at the Microsoft CEO Summit. Gates previously lauded so called "Surface" computers with tactile interfaces the future of computing, and has said that the upcoming Windows 7 will include features that focus heavily on the use of such interfaces.

Tactile surfaces are nothing new. While Apple is much maligned for its creative pricing and less than friendly corporate policy, among other things, it can legitimately claim to have the most successful tactile computer to date -- the iPhone. The iPhone was widely lauded for its ability to do things like file browsing, web surfing, zooming, and rotating pictures, all with simple finger movement.

Apple may not be the king of tactile for long, however, as Microsoft is looking not to just deploy the technology in portable devices, but in full size computers as well. It already launched demo models of its Surface computer, a small coffee table style machine that users can touch and manipulate, to partner AT&T stores.

The progress continues with the TouchWall, which Bill Gates describes as an "intelligent whiteboard" and hopes will become an integral tool for use with Microsoft Office's next iteration. In his speech, Gates first discussed the evolution of surface computers from simplistic interfaces like tablet PCs, to more complex interfaces like Microsoft's Surface and RoundTable tactile computers.

Gates went on to play with the screen behind him, which turned out to be the TouchWall itself, to the audience's excitement. The device uses similar movements to the iPhone -- finger swooshes for movement, pinching motions for zooming. Gates showcased how the interface allowed him to easily navigate around a complex word document filled with multimedia.

Gates flipped through pages of a Word document, showing off various touch effects. He then opened a PowerPoint document, which he moved around, zooming in on select features. Many compared the effects to Microsoft Silverlight's Deep Zoom technology. Silverlight is Microsoft's browser plug-in, which competes with Adobe's Flash plug-in. Silverlight features advanced scaling technology, some of which may be being drawn in for Microsoft's tactile endeavors.

Perhaps the most fun looking feature of the TouchWall was the pen feature, which doesn't sound like anything special, but in practice would be quite useful. The pen button allows you to circle items, or jot notes, all with your finger. Most who witnessed the presentation agreed with Gates' assessment that the TouchWall was a "natural extension for Office".

The device definitely has a lot of potential. Past digital whiteboard designs have been plagued with problems and were poorly implemented. Writes On10's Sarah Perez, "This definitely has potential. I know at one of my previous jobs, we had a semi-intelligent whiteboard that would let you take pictures of what you had put up there, but thanks to a crappy driver and confusing software, no one ever really used it for anything but a traditional whiteboard. Instead, everyone just plugged in laptops to a projector and launched a PowerPoint. The TouchWall was so much more interactive and visually stimulating, but even better, it looked darn easy. You just touch it."

The even better news about this exciting new technology -- Gates is claiming the hardware "wouldn't be that expensive". Here's hoping he's accurate.
DailyTech
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post #2 of 3
Yes it has potential.....for a high price tag.

I like the look of this, and i am glad they are implementing it into windows 7. But that only means one thing to me......it is an essential for the OS. Which means no matter what price they put on it, people will have to pay
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post #3 of 3
The CNN Political Room will drool over this.
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