I just caught the Channel 10 video of the Microsoft Surface–awesome new device.
The direct manipulation is cool, but the real genius for me is the object recognition feature. I love being able to set an object on the surface and have that surface be instantly aware of the object’s location and identity.
Microsoft says they’re going after the commercial world initially, and I can immediately see what my favorite application would be–hotel check-in. Why does this have to take so long? I should be able to cruise up just as I do in other settings, drop my affinity card (Starwood or whomever) onto a surface computer and be instantly recognized. Options would proceed by touch, finally culminating in a card swipe for charges. The last clever touch wuold be to do away with the room key. Perhaps someone will make an id card that is more secure than the visible patterns used by surface computer, but that also has those patterns. If so, my affinity card could be my room key wherever I stay.
The only drawback is the surface computer seems expensive and delicate enough that it may be reserved for settings where it can be well looked after.
Now here is the funny thing: according to Scoble, the original surface web site used Flash not Silverlight. When I went there Microsoft had pulled it down and was only displaying a black empty page. Caught!