“Surface turns an ordinary tabletop into a vibrant, dynamic surface that provides effortless interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. Beginning at the end of this year, consumers will be able to interact with Surface in hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues. ” Press release 30 May 2007.

One year on from Microsoft’s announcement, AT&T will be pushing their mobile sales with the help of the World’s first commercially available tangible table.


Research on Surface dates back to 2001 with Stevie Bathiche of Microsoft Hardware and Andy Wilson of Microsoft Research convincing Mr. Jobs to develop the project. A first prototype appeared in 2003, built using an Ikea table and a sheet of architect vellum.

Microsoft hail the beginning of a great future for this kind of technology, and indeed with the various announcements of multi touch screens of last year and the birth of the iphone, it would appear this is where the future for another breed of screens is taking us. What this will mean for motion designers is a completely new rethink about how they work with image & text. It will no longer be about animating content in a communicative way across the screen. The designers of the future will be developing new skills, and they already are.

Interaction design is becoming an increasingly popular choice at schools and colleges and students are all hard at work designing their own Ikea tangible prototypes. Some already having took their creations beyond simple prototype – Reactable is a successful example.
Motion design has just got a whole more interesting and I’ll be keeping a close eye on the evolution of the image as interface and how this perspective will change the way motion designers will create for the screens of the future.

>>> Main Site & documents
>>> Why it took so long
>>> The essential list of interactive tables