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Hitachi Does Microsoft Surface Without the Table

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the enless-variations-on-a-really-cool-theme dept.

Toys 110

An anonymous reader writes "According to CNET.co.uk, who randomly stumbled into a booth at CES, Toshiba has created a Microsoft Surface-type system without the unwieldy table. 'The StarBoard system is really two technologies in one. Firstly, it features Hitachi's short-throw LCD projector. This is important, because the projector sits mere inches from the interactive surface. This means you get a huge — 50-inch, in fact — bright screen, which doesn't get blocked out by your head as you lean over the table. The image it projects is incredibly high-quality too, and there was no noticeable distortion.' The video attached to the article shows the system in action." It should be noted that the implication that leaning over the table blocks a projection from above is spurious; the Surface projects an image from below. The 'overhead' setup at CES was a camera designed to show onlookers what was taking place on the table.

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ICARS predicted this! (5, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079616)

ICARS -- the interactive touch-screen displays seen on Star Trek: The Next Generation and later shows predicted this as far back as what? 1986 or 1987 or something? And now it's here for real.

I see this as ideal for collaboration. Gather a bunch of people around the big screen and they can all make changes in realtime. Very nice.

Re:ICARS predicted this! (3, Informative)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080182)

LCARS, not ICARS. The "L" stands for Library.

Re:ICARS predicted this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22080210)

Btw, it's not "ICARS" on Star Trek, it's "LCARS", which stands for "Library Computer Access and Retrieval System [wikipedia.org] ".

Re:ICARS predicted this! (1)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080238)

Wasn't there something like this in "Hunt for Red October" as well? Like a computerized chart table.

The one in Red October uses a big wired controller (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22080330)

to move around and zoom into the charts. It was basically a screen mounted into a table (like all those tabletop Video Games from the early late 80's)

Re:ICARS predicted this! (2, Informative)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080362)


I may be wrong - I'm only a regular trek viewer - but I don't remember any trek, even the most recent (Enterprise) or the farthest in the future (future federation timeships in Voyager and Enterprise) that clearly had multitouch interfaces. Touchscreen, yes, but not multitouch as in the typical picture-rotate-and-resize demos we get these days.

If those kinds of interfaces were pictured and imagined since back then, I think they'd have been implemented years back as well. Palo Alto et al were quite the innovators. No, the first occurence of that type of interface I remember seeing is in Minority Report.

Re:ICARS predicted this! (4, Informative)

daenris (892027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080716)

While the first mass-media use may have been in Minority Report, research on multi-touch systems goes back at least to the mid-80s, and quite possibly before. http://www.billbuxton.com/multitouchOverview.html [billbuxton.com]

Re:ICARS predicted this! (2, Interesting)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082544)

One of the interesting things about Star Trek is that the concepts frequently exceeded the ability of the set designers or the prop builders to keep up. If you get some of the coffee table books where they include some of the concept and designer notes from when say TNG, DS9, Voyager, or even Enterprise were being developed they include such items as three dimensional holographic displays, completely voice actuated systems with no buttons or control panels at all (ruled too advanced for 24th century at the time of TNG...the audience wouldn't buy it). So what actually ended up the screen was not always exactly what the producers wanted, but what they were able to do on time and in budget with the resources that they had available at the time. The user interface concepts shown in Star Trek are generally very forward looking and include many features which eventually make their way into real world systems in one form or another even if the physics and other scientific concepts are somewhat less convincingly portrayed (i.e. Star Trek physics...ugh).

Re:ICARS predicted this! (1)

Maavin (598439) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081456)

AFAIK LCARS displays have a taktile feedback. Which is done by small forcefields...

THAT would be news :)

Re:ICARS predicted this! (2, Funny)

EatHam (597465) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081462)

And now we're supposed to just sit back and watch as we all get our arms broken by sore loser wookies? No fucking thank you, I'll stick with my monitor.

Re:ICARS predicted this! (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22084750)

That's what the bullwhip is for.

Re:ICARS predicted this! (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082068)

Indeed. And there is a scene, I think in Next Generation, or in DS9, in which Miles O'Brian rearranges some blocks on a screen using both hands in order to make some adjustments to the engine.

Re:ICARS predicted this! (1)

Kasis (918962) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083208)

I can't believe nobody has mentioned the controls for the transporters

Star Trek! Extra Mod Points! Woot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22083172)

Modded "5 - Interesting"?!?!? Because of the Star Trek reference, probably... Sad, really...

Re:ICARS predicted this! (1)

zymano (581466) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086132)

Star Trek invented everything!!!! Go watch the 'day earth stood still'.

there's a motion sensing screen there too. I guess they invented that too!! Including robots!!!

silly.

The future is here... (3, Funny)

PietjeJantje (917584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079624)

More big ass tables! [jibjab.com]

Re:The future is here... (0, Troll)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079776)

Stolen from:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZrr7AZ9nCY [youtube.com]

Geez get fucking real link troller - that copy was complete crap! Hey JibJab? You're fucking over you one-note has-beens.

Re:The future is here... (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081574)

Speaking of ass, these tables are a definitive upgrade from photocopiers at office christmas parties. Just imagine the possibilities ...

shadows (2, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079630)

This means you get a huge -- 50-inch, in fact -- bright screen, which doesn't get blocked out by your head as you lean over the table.

No, but you do get big shadowhands when you use the touch surface. If they found a way to do this with two projectors, though, you'd probably be able to avoid even that (though alignment/convergence issues would be a bitch).

Re:shadows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22079660)

if you had read the summary you would see that the projector is UNDER the table "It should be noted that the implication that leaning over the table blocks a projection from above is spurious; the Surface projects an image from below. The 'overhead' setup at CES was a camera designed to show onlookers what was taking place on the table."

Re:shadows (2, Informative)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079762)

And if you'd read the article and watched the video, you'd see that Zonk's comment really has no place here, since he's talking about how the MS Surface works. The Hitachi system demonstrated here is very much a short-throw projector that projects the image downwards onto the surface (hence negating the need for a full-table solution, as the MS one requires). Unless they've figured out a way for light to travel through opaque objects, you will get shadows.

Re:shadows (2, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080546)

Reading between the lines, they say the projector is "inches" away from the table. The only way I can see that working is if the projector is off to one side and has massive keystone correction. So you will get shadows from fingers that touch the surface, but not from heads or hands that are above the table by more than a few inches.

Re:shadows (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22080784)

Try watching the video. They show the projector, along with exactly how far from the surface it is (about a foot, which is "inches" when compared to the throw of a normal projector).

Re:shadows (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080818)

The only way I can see that working is if the projector is off to one side and has massive keystone correction

Yes, that's exactly how it works in the video. I like the table better, although a front-projector probably results in better contrast and colour.

Re:shadows (2, Informative)

nherc (530930) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079798)

If you'd RTFA and not just RTFS, you'd see the summary was bollocksed and the editors are either still half asleep or in the same boat as you.

From the article linked in the summary with my comments in parentheses:

The StarBoard system is really two technologies in one. Firstly, it features Hitachi's short-throw LCD projector. This is important, because the projector sits mere inches from the interactive surface (on top of the table/surface, which is clearly seen in the video). This means you get a huge -- 50-inch, in fact -- bright screen, which doesn't get blocked out by your head as you lean over the table (but it is blocked by your hands touching/near the surface as the parent talks about and again as seen in the video).
...
The surface itself is simply a rigid board (it's difficult to project an image through a board from my understanding of physics). At the top there are two cameras that track the movement of your hands.

Re:shadows (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082490)

So it isn't inspired by the movie Paycheck [imdb.com] ?

"This is the exact same technology?"

"Not the exact same technology, no. Ultimately, I decided to reconceive some of it. I never liked the way the monitor looked. And then it occurred to me... who needs it?"

Re:shadows (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080022)

If you watched the video you'd see the projector displays the image on top of your hands and they drop shadows on the surface.

Re:shadows (1)

cmpalmer (234347) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083714)

Yeah, but if you are standing directly in front the projector, you wouldn't see what your hands and forearms were covering anyway, so the shadows aren't that big of a deal (except for in collaboration where the view would be temporarily shadowed for people viewing from either side.

The projector itself is very cool - finding a mounting spot for a projector is often a pain and ceiling mounts on high ceilings are unweildy. With this you can mount the projector on the wall above or below the screen and only have it protrude a little ways. Neat.

Re:shadows (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079770)

Or do what other multitouch systems do - rear projection. The short-throw projector still has an advantage because it allows the table to be thinner.

The only way this would be truly unique is if you combine the short-throw projector optics with those pocket-sized projectors and have the motion sensing cameras built into the same unit as well... then you would literally have a pocket-sized, large area multitouch interface that could be used on any surface.

Does anyone know if someone's gotten multitouch input to work with AutoCAD? An "interactive" drafting table is something I've wanted to build for years...
=Smidge=

Re:shadows (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079794)

Or do what other multitouch systems do - rear projection.

Which sort of defeats the purpose of having a highly portable touch-surface system. One of the HUGE benefits of this system is that you can set it up on any conference room table and it'll work. All you need is a large flat surface. If you messed with rear projection, then you'd suddenly need to either find a big glass table, or you'd need to lug one around with the projection system.

Re:shadows (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080026)

Congratulations on being able to completely avoid the second paragraph of my post.

=Smidge=

Re:shadows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22080112)

i don't see how your first paragraphs aren't talking about 2 different things? i mean, the first paragraph you mention they should use rear projection. then your second paragraph tells how a 'unique' solution would use a portable projector and motion cameras to be able to project on any surface. aren't the translucent requirements of a rear projection solution almost completely exclusive of 'any surface'?

Re:shadows (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080342)

Yes, they DO talk about two different things... that's why I made them seperate paragraphs.

My first comment was in direct reply to the parent. The current setup is not that portable, and using two projectors would be even less so - not only because it's twice the equipment, but because they would have to be carefully aligned and spaced. And you would still have "shadows" in that setup - areas of the display that are half as bright.

My second paragraph was my own comment that a shadow is not a big deal for a compact, portable, "use anywhere" device.
=Smidge=

Re:shadows (1)

G-News.ch (793321) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081404)

You're wrong still. That thing in the video DOES project the image from an angle from ABOVE, hence the shadows of the hands. It's not projected from below, unlike the solution of microsoft's table. You might want to rephrase that second paragraph to make it clearer whether you're talking about the MS or the Hitachi solution.

Re:shadows (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081796)

I'm not talking about either one. I threw out an idea for a totally different device that combines aspects of several other devices - one of which being Hitachi's short-throw projection optics - to make something that is unique, portable and useful to the point where shadow issues are easily overlooked by the user. I really don't see anything in the wording of my original post that suggested otherwise.

Maybe you're just not used to being presented with more than one opinion at a time? Does looking at a design problem from more than one perspective confuse you?
=Smidge=

Re:shadows (1)

Freeside1 (1140901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080172)

Plus, all those drafting tables that were once replaced by CAD systems will once again be useful. Sort of.

Re:shadows (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080858)

If you messed with rear projection, then you'd suddenly need to either find a big glass table, or you'd need to lug one around with the projection system.

Use a collapsible table. It could be the modern equivalent of the roll-up movie/slide projection screens most families in the US used to have at home. The whole thing could collapse into a small-suitcase-type package, like I'm assuming the Hitachi device does.

Re:shadows (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081262)

The only way this would be truly unique is if you combine the short-throw projector optics with those pocket-sized projectors and have the motion sensing cameras built into the same unit as well... then you would literally have a pocket-sized, large area multitouch interface that could be used on any surface.

You mean like the laser keyboard, [thinkgeek.com] on a larger display scale?

Re:shadows (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081502)

"Or do what other multitouch systems do - "

'other multitiuch...'? Tracking hand-movement has nothing to do with touch-sensitive screens or surfaces. MS Surface tracks, just as the Hitachi system. Neither has touch-coordinate capability.

Re:shadows (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081930)

You're being way too pedantic.

Given that it does not track your movements until your fingers are touching (or at least really really close to) the countertop, it's a very specific and limited tracking system. Just because the countertop itself is not actively involved in the process doesn't mean it's not touch - there is tactile feedback with this.
=Smidge=

Re:shadows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22080326)

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~johnny/projects/thesis/ [cmu.edu]

The first video demonstrates this. The next videos on this page are just faster and more dynamic ways of auto-calibrating. This is also the guy who's done all of the crazy wiimote stuff, like the multitouch poorman's interactive whiteboard. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~johnny/projects/wii/ [cmu.edu] , second video on the page.

Guess he's pretty ahead of the game.

Already done (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080380)

If they found a way to do this with two projectors, though, you'd probably be able to avoid even that (though alignment/convergence issues would be a bitch).

Johnny Lee, who is actually mentioned in a post further down, did this already using low cost projectors and surfaces.

Look at Automatic Projector Calibration on his website: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~johnny/projects/thesis/ [cmu.edu]

Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082268)

When I saw the tite "Hitachi Does Microsoft" I expected something else.

Wii guy will do this! (3, Funny)

altoz (653655) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079638)

I'm just waiting for the wii guy to do the same thing for like $5

Re:Wii guy will do this! (5, Informative)

danielcolchete (1088383) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079684)

He already did: it's a project called "Low-Cost Multi-point Interactive Whiteboards Using the Wiimote" located at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~johnny/projects/wii/ [cmu.edu] .

Re:Wii guy will do this! (0, Redundant)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079688)

Re:Wii guy will do this! (5, Insightful)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079772)

fuck! now I'm gonna get modded down -1 Redundant.

and it's going to happen to me twice, cause I posted this acknowledgement of my redundancy.

how do i make this +1 insightful... ...um....something about how in soviet russia, chuck norris welcomes his grits-eating natalie portman overlord while throwing a chair at an insensitive clot....because all your memes are belong to me?

Re:Wii guy will do this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22079890)

Karma Whoring at this hour?

Re:Wii guy will do this! (0, Offtopic)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080406)


well that seems to have worked.

Damn, now I'm gonna get -1 Redundants. Time to modify that anti-gravitron deflector shield, cap'n.

Re:Wii guy will do this! (0)

srussell (39342) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080562)

I'm just waiting for the wii guy to do the same thing for like $5
He will, only it'll be 12" across and much lower resolution, and you'll only be able to display non-graphically-violent content.

--- SER

Re:Wii guy will do this! (2, Informative)

RemyBR (1158435) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080688)

I believe he already did something at least similar. See the multi-point interactive white boards [cmu.edu] at his page.

So MS still better? (1)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079646)

Instead of your head casting the shadow, your hand will? I think I'd still rather have the rear-projection in that case.

Re:So MS still better? (1)

SomeGuyTyping (751195) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079766)

you can easily do this will rear projection, and you'll be able to have a smaller device since the projector can be closer to the screen

You like MS? (1)

eknagy (1056622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079886)

Let me get this straight:
You want your ass to cast shadows?

Well just think about this (1)

WillRobinson (159226) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080038)

How hard would it be to project from the bottom? Not hard at all. Then the shadows would be gone.

Microsoft already did this (2, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079752)

Microsoft has done surface without the table, in fact, that's how the whole tech started off.

See here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xujhFInvyxo [youtube.com]

or here:

http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2007/03/microsoft_research_techfe.html [makezine.com]

It's the original demonstration from where the current surface stemmed.

A specific table isn't essential to the surface concept.

Re:Microsoft already did this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22079830)

what? make magazine covers a microsoft product? drm drm drm we need for them to fail it !!!oneoneONE!!!

dis iz slashdoooot. we needz to bash the microsoft!

Re:Microsoft already did this (1)

Tr3vin (1220548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079914)

Oh no! Blue tables of death!

Re:Microsoft already did this (1)

JimNTonik (1097185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080088)

Microsoft also supports multi-touch, which the video doesn't mention at all - I suspect this demo did not support any kind of gesture support, or more than two simultaneous touches.

Re:Microsoft already did this (1)

sabernet (751826) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080206)

Watch the video again. They had a picture viewer utilizing identical two handed gestures.

Re:Microsoft already did this (1)

JimNTonik (1097185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080840)

There's a big difference between allowing two inputs (one for each hand) and true multi-touch (i.e. all fingers on each hand) -- this example is the former, Surface is the latter.

Prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22080530)

I could do the same with my Lightpen on Atari 2600.

Re:Microsoft already did this (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080666)

Who made the interactive table outside the Samsung store in NYC? [youtube.com] because that appears to be basically the same tech and has been there for years.

Prior Art Alert: Already done with Linux (1)

AppleTwoGuru (830505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079870)

Microsoft Surface idea not that new? [tgdaily.com] http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/32389/118/ [tgdaily.com]

I just love the openness internet. If Microsoft tried this 10 to 15 years ago, they might have gotten away with it as an original idea. But it is not. Why do you think more politics have to be added to the Patent system? So Microsoft can continue to appear to be innovative when they have faked most of it all along? You don't need to spend 7.1 Billion dollars a year on R&D. Just use Google for free and cut that cost at least by half, if not more! Spend the other half on feeding the poor, or rebuilding from the devastation of Katrina, for example.

Re:Prior Art Alert: Already done with Linux (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080556)

If Microsoft tried this 10 to 15 years ago, they might have gotten away with it as an original idea.

Surface doesn't have to be an "original" idea, whatever that means, it only has to be the better idea, the practical implementation of the idea. Surface is software that works with the simplest and most reliable of off-the-shelf hardware. It can read tokens printed or stamped into objects like game pieces. It might be able do biometric IDs.

Re:Prior Art Alert: Already done with Linux (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081906)

If you'd actually watched video of the Surface demo, you'd see the Reactix solution is only partially similar, in that it has a digital screen you can interact with. That's where the similarity ends. Surface is projected from underneath, meaning no shadows, and can interact with devices placed on the surface, from mobile phones to cameras. Just having a projected image you can interact with is not the same as MS's Surface. It's not even close. It would help your cause if you got your facts right before slating MS, as it just makes you look a wee bit foolish.

Re:Prior Art Alert: Already done with Linux (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082866)

Was it a multi-touch interface? Probably not. This technology is fairly new. From what I understand, Apple licensed their technology from MIT to create their iPhone. This is what really sets these new surface computers apart from what has been done in the past. For example, being able to expand picture using two fingers, etc.

So it's a smartboard on its side... (2, Insightful)

millia (35740) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079894)

So it's an interactive whiteboard on the table instead of the wall. Aka, activboard, smartboard, mimio.
Well, okay, it's multi-touch instead of single touch, but it's still not *that* fancy.

BTW, those short throw projectors use a crazy fisheye lens to avoid keystoning. From our experience with them in the aforementioned whiteboards, the picture isn't as clear as a regular projector, and it's harder than normal to get good focus. When you're very near to the board, it gets quite noticeable.

Re:So it's a smartboard on its side... (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080942)

Well, okay, it's multi-touch instead of single touch, but it's still not *that* fancy.

There is a lot of interesting research into the kinds of UIs you can do with a multi-touch table interface that can't be done with a screen. My favourite was a video of some students (at MIT, I think?) who had built one that also detected the position of marked physical objects which acted as various components in a virtual sound synthesizer program (so you could e.g. put a plastic star which represented a lowpass filter on the table, put two plastic knobs next to it, and when the software detected you turning the knobs, it would adjust the cutoff frequency and resonance in the softsynth).
While I like the keyboard/mouse interface for things like coding, I absolutely loathe it for anything musical, because it's basically going from having ten fingers to having one (the mouse pointer). I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes out of an interface as different as tables can be. It's not a huge *technological* leap forward, but I think it will be a huge leap forward in UI design.

education (2, Insightful)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079948)

they don't half hard on about the education market for this new projector on some of the other sites mentioning it.

I was taught in an old fashioned British school with blackboards, chalk, uniforms and traditional methods. Is it just me who thinks that emphasis on gadgets like this will simply cost schools money and distract from the subject matter of the lesson.

By all means get the whizzy gadgetry, but remember that its no substitute for competent teachers and a well planned curriculum.

Of course this is /. and this comment is slightly off topic, so feel free to mode me to oblivion...

Re:education (1)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080248)

They're going on about the education market, because that's where this sort of technology is already in use - several of my relatives are teachers, and even primary schools are using interactive whiteboards now, and apart from the times when the laptop running it gets broken by one of the kids, they love the things, because they can do things like preparing their notes before a lesson, and just loading them at the appropriate time.

That means they can spend more time teaching their students, instead of writing the same set of example questions on the board every time they do a lesson. It also means they can use their whiteboard for projecting DVDs (something they used to book a seperate TV for), running Powerpoint presentations, or even letting the kids play games as a reward - and trust me, bejewelled takes on a new dimension when being played on a 6 foot touch screen :P

Your point is entirely valid, it's always possible for bad teachers to cause distraction with superfluous animations and the like, but that's why teacher training courses include modules on how to effectively use Powerpoint and friends in a lesson, without sending everyone to sleep. And anyway, the average 6 year old child actually enjoys clipart bouncing around the place now and again.

I'm actually really looking forward to seeing what the current generation of primary school kids manage to do with computers when they grow up, because from what I've been told most of them are completely comfortable with computers already, having spent their entire lives being exposed to them.

Re:education (2, Interesting)

SargentDU (1161355) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080310)

I was in a military school in the 1970's (1979 actually) where the instructor used markers on a white board and
pressed a button on the whiteboard and then passed out handouts with the screen drawing on it. He pressed
another button and a wiper passed across the board and restored it to all white so he could write and draw as
he pleased. It did not get in the way of education, in fact, it facilitated the instructor and his efforts.

Re:education (1)

FinestLittleSpace (719663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080400)

I've felt the same in many respects, and when I was just finishing school they did start to use the early incarnation of the 'interactive whiteboard' in one of the classrooms. I generally found it quite pointless, but my mind was changed when I saw that recently there's a lot of research that's been done (citation needed, I'm sorry, this is a quick post) that shows they readily improve young school children's attention span by a huge amount, even if it's what they were used to from the start. There's just something a bit more engaging about big flashy colours and what not to a small kid, rather than a teacher simply scrawling in their handwriting on a whiteboard (which they probably can't read anyway).

It's not a magic solution andit doesn't work for all subjects at all ages, but they really DO have merit, more so than us skeptics think.

You're confused about attention spans (2, Insightful)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081984)

It may be that children are paying more attention to the large TV at the front of the room (what these things really are) than they were to the teacher, but my take is that much like the 5-second cuts in current TV shows, bright flashy colors and animation isn't "improving" anyone's attention span. For non-animated, non-colored, non-audio presentation of information (you know, those things called "books" or most of the "real" content on the Internet) this is likely to have an adverse affect. As television clearly shows, it is quite possible to increase attention (what you meant to say) while shortening attention spans (what is happening with TV and things like interactive presentations in the classroom).

I'm a former teacher and was the "technology mentor" at my school. During my time teaching one of my greatest frustrations was watching elementary school teachers use PowerPoint to deaden both the interest in computers and the interest in subject matter. A good teacher can help kids have fun learning with a chalkboard. A bad one can kill a child's interest no matter what wonderful tool you provide.

Having the attention span of a two-year-old after three bowls of chocolate-frosted sugar bombs is what politicians really want from the electorate. War not going too well? Oh, look! Brittany sans undergarments! Socialized medicine a terrible idea? Wow! Look at the snow in the Northeast. Pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain.

MS Surface is way cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22080004)

I am fascinated with this. But I wonder how much the technology is tied up in patents and IP issues. If competitors can come up with competitive versions maybe not as much as I fear.

Except this video/article is so uninformative that I may have just been seeing an implementation of Microsofts program running on Hitachi hardware.

It says Toshiba in the first line? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22080028)

It says Toshiba in the first line? Guess they meant Hitachi...

Who's worse ... (2, Insightful)

robertmc (620899) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080030)

CNET for getting the technology wrong or /. for saying it's Toshiba not Hitachi? Standards sinking ...

enless variations? (1)

jenik (1030872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080040)

wouldn't that be 'variatios'?

2 touches vs 52 (1)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080190)

It should also be noted that it appears the Hitachi can only support two simultaneous touches at a time, while the Surface can currently recognize up to 52 different touches and even specific items with visual codes fixed to them.

Re:2 touches vs 52 (1)

kgwilliam (998911) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081198)

Actually Surface can recognize unlimited number of contacts. But the performance is being optimized for 52 simultaneous touches.

Prior art - Amiga (1)

Snart Barfunz (526615) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080264)

I seem to remember this being done in the mid-80s of the last century with a Commodore Amiga and a Live! video digitizer board. If I could be assed to Google it, I suppose I could quickly invalidate any subsequent patent claims

nautical refrence (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080564)

Hitachi makes StarBoard System, i guess someone will soon make a BSD flavored one and call it Ports :)

orientation (2, Funny)

hey (83763) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080568)

I think you'd get backache if you learned of over a Surface-like thing for a while.
Maybe the answer is to flip it up horizontal.
To avoid the cost of a touch screen (or sensors) you might instead use a mouse on a flat surface like a desk.
That would be one awesome system!

Re:orientation (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081018)

an interactive lazor pointer would be cool...

Re:orientation (1)

boris111 (837756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082576)

For graphic designers, architects, etc. you could have it sit up at 45 deg angle like how the old fashioned drafting desks.

didn't apple patent multi-touch? (1)

bangthegong (1190059) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080572)

i don't know the details of the patent, so perhaps this doesn't apply, but part of the video shows a "pinch" zoom function which I thought apple had patented.

A long time ago..... (1)

ryu1232 (792127) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080606)

This would be perfect for the assault on the Death Star from the Yavin rebel base.

What the... (1)

N Nomad (1198231) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080746)

Why do they *always* have to demonstrate touch screen technologies with some sort of god damned GPS/google maps type of software?

Already exists in MS Visitor Center (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22080980)

I saw a projection version of surface in the Microsoft Visitor Center early in 2007 - it was before surface was announced and open to anyone who went in to the visitor center. They had a nice demo using it with Live Maps where you can zoom and scroll around the map.

Not Good Enough (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081046)

What I want is not so much a table, but a tilted drawing board [google.com] . This projection tech can do that. Hell, a nice big DLP/HDMI TV can do that, tilted over and propped up.

What we need is coffee mugs, pens, magazines and other regular objects that can stick on the tilted surface. 3M Post-Its tech to the rescue?

Microsoft Surface is not about the table (4, Insightful)

El Cabri (13930) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081116)

The actual hardware is not what Microsoft is after with the Surface, but rather the software, development platform and user experience. For all of these prototypes that explore various ways of bringing the image to any big flat surface and to track the user's touch, all of them show you how to use google maps, and then their ad-hoc photo shuffling application, and that's all. None of them has yet any real useful application or complete SDK with hardware support abstracted.

Next to godliness (1)

Teflon_Jeff (1221290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081588)

Well, at least now I don't have to worry about people putting their feet up and messing up my table.

di3k (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22081672)

BSD's aclaimed [goat.cx]

E-pL? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22081786)

no matter how sanctionS, and to die. I will jam

I saw this at CES (1)

pcause (209643) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082868)

I saw this in the Hitachi booth at CES. Very col device. The PC screen was projected on the special table top. There is some kind of sensor that detects the hand motions. Just like the Surface and iPhone. They used Google Maps satellite images to demo and showed zooming using multi-touch gestures.

The other part is the extra buttons on the surface that work with a PC based white boarding application. You can click a color and then shape and draw a circle ( or text or square, etc) and it overlays on the PC screen. They said you can save the current window image with the overlays.

Very cool demo. No one discussed pricing.

how is this much different than MS surface? (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082936)

You're just changing the orientation of the projector. Besides - MS surface has a few other interesting features which I haven't seen in these demos. Off the top of my head, it communicates with devices using bluetooth (I think). This way you can set a camera down on the surface, and see all the stored pictures. or Set you MP3 player down and play music off of it. I could say that Hitachi reinvented the wheel, but if I said that, I'd have to say Microsoft invented the car.

This is the only one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22083932)

The only "surface without the table" in the world at the moment is this:

http://www.stantum.com/spip.php?article50 [stantum.com]

It's the first and only multitouch display of its kind, as far as I know. If you know better, do tell me.

It should be noted that the implication that.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22084544)

"It should be noted that the implication that leaning over the table blocks a projection from above is spurious; the Surface projects an image from below. The 'overhead' setup at CES was a camera designed to show onlookers what was taking place on the table."

Actually, if you look at the video, you can see the projected image being reflected off the _top_ of his hand while it casts a dark shadow on to the table. Clearly projected from above.

Arse (1)

gbelteshazzar (1214658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22086194)

So to summarise this is the Microsoft Big Arse Table with out the table? Hmmm, I'm not sure that they've run this past their marketing department.
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