Microsoft touch technology Surfaces in retail outlets

2 Apr 2008

An exclusive deal with telecoms firm AT&T in the US sees Microsoft’s latest interactive technology Surface not only get its first commercial outing but it is doing so in conjunction with mobile consumer devices.

Although Surface has multiple uses, its coupling with AT&T will focus on how it interacts with mobile devices: handsets from BlackBerry, Samsung, Motorola and LG can be placed on the display which will recognise it and give information on the devices’ properties.

If two mobiles are placed beside each other on the Surface display, it will do a comparison of features.

From 17 April, consumers will be able to go to certain AT&T stores around the US and see demonstrations of what Surface can do and how it works with mobile devices. There have been no announcements from Microsoft on when Surface will roll out across Europe.

“Microsoft Surface transforms the retail environment from a transaction destination to a customer engagement destination,” said Robbie Bach, president of the entertainment and devices division at Microsoft.

“With innovative and intuitive ways of accessing information and digital content on Microsoft Surface, consumers now have an entirely new, unique and personalised shopping experience.”

Microsoft has previously said that Surface will revolutionise the way we interact with computers. The smart display could be used as a table in a restaurant which detects when the diner’s cup is empty and automatically offers a refill, or can be a coffee table and computer all-in-one which can be used by an individual or groups of people.

At the time of the technology’s release in May 2007, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said: “We see this as a multibillion-dollar category and we envision a time when surface computing technologies will be pervasive, from tabletops and counters to the hallway mirror.”

By Marie Boran