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Microsoft's touchscreen Sphere appears on video

By Stuart Turton

Posted on 29 Jul 2008 at 10:17

A video of Microsoft's new spherical touch surface display has appeared on the internet, and early indications are that the software maker is aiming to do far more than simply wedge Surface into a new form factor.

In the video, Hrvoje Benko of Microsoft Research, demonstrates the early applications of the technology which features an internal projection system and multiple-touch surface.

It's clear Microsoft envisages Sphere as a more collaborative tool than Surface, with lots of users gathered around the sphere working together on a project.

"That's one of the benefits of the sphere," notes Benko in the video. "Everybody who's standing around it gets an equally valid view. Nobody has a master position... we think this unit is very inviting for multiple people in a highly-trafficked area, such as exhibitions or lobbies were people need to get information and could share the interface."

Movement appears very naturalistic, with users able to flick pictures around to the other side of the sphere, just as they would flick something across a table.

The demonstration then goes on to show a globe, "kind of the typical one that everyone asks for", which Benko drags around and zooms in on, just as you would in Google Earth.

He then flips to a video, showing a 360 degree street view of Seattle which he proceeds to navigate around.

The final demonstration involves a game of Pong, in which users on both sides of the sphere must tap the screen to bat the ball back to the other side.

Though the user interface still has rough edges, there's no doubting the potential of the technology, even despite Microsoft's insistence that there are currently no plans for a commercial launch.

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