Sunday, December 14, 2008

Microsoft Surface

I haven't had much time to blog due to all of the end-of-year things going on at work and all of the turmoil in the financial services industry.

After the Waters USA 2008 conference last Monday, a few of us shuffled over to the Microsoft Technology Center on 6th Avenue and 51st Street. Joe was nice enough to invite us to see a demo of Microsoft Surface.

Surface is basically a giant touchscreen. I would say that it would find its greatest usage in a retail scenario where you would have a single app running all day. Customers would be attracted to the large footprint of the Surface and the compelling graphics that would be offered by the WPF-based apps that run on the Surface.

Some points about the Surface that are negatives for me:

1) Very large footprint. It is roughly the dimensions of a coffee table. The base is filled with cameras and a computer.

2) The surface of The Surface has to be parallel to the ground. You cannot angle the Surface in any way. You cannot place it perpendicular to the ground like a regular computer monitor. This make it very difficult to put on a trading floor.

3) You can only run one application on the Surface at a time. You cannot have multiple apps running simultaneously, and "drag and drop" between the two apps.

4) The surface is not pressure sensitive. Neither is there any kind of tactile feedback mechanism.

5) There is no concept of Z-order (ie: depth).

What you have with the Surface is a very large touchscreen that is designed for retail-based kiosk-type applications.

There are a catalog of "motions" that are available that you can use in your apps. For example, when you put your thumb and forefinger together, the Surface detects a "pinching motion". I imagine that your app is sent an OnPinch event, much like a MouseDown event is sent when you click a mouse. But, my limited imagination does not allow me to think of a good use for motions in a trading app.

I am trying to figure out how to use it on the trading floor. I don't think that it can be used effectively for a trading application. Where I think that it might be helpful is to encourage collaboration between traders, something the replace "The Hoot", but even that is a stretch.

If you can think of a good application for the Surface on a trading floor, please let me know.

©2008 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved.
All opinions here are personal, and have no relation to my employer.

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