CES 2011 – Surface 2

Surface Logo 2.0
EL DOSurface logo

This post is suppost to keep track of interesting news that’s shooting out left and right from CES this week. (Like Xolotl’s dying sperm shots in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light). (the tragedy here, is that I don’t know ANYONE who cares about this CES tech shit half as much as I do)

Microsoft Surface version 2
(aka Samsung’s SUR40 tv) sounds awesome. AWESOME! I’m stunned this isn’t bigger news. … I guess people see it as a giant iPad that costs more than twice most high end tvs? (or they will soon? if they ever even hear about it?) butttttt. What’s really exciting is the “pixelsense” tech, which claims to be a bunch of camera sensors mixed in with the pixels, turning the whole display into a camera. Apple patented this years ago. but, microsoft made it. HMM! (actually, no one has laid out the tech exactly. who knows how many sensors there are).

I’ll rant more about below, after listing off some interesting tech announcements

Other cool news:

Sony’s 3D head-mounted display prototype face-on
Looks like cool Tron shit. Sounds like nice improved resolution, when compared to the myVu ghetto goggles. Also seems to be a concept with no firm release planned? whenEVER I see a new HMD, the first thing I ask is : does it solve the problem of COOKING YOUR EYEBALLS? and so should you. Then I ask whether you need to take it off at least every hour, like HMDs of old, to avoid retraining your inner ear (and causing nausea and balance problems). I won’t give a shit about “vr goggles” until they address these core problems out of the gate!

Striker – Integrated Display Helmet
Look around to control the targeting reticule? Actually it wasn’t clear to me if this was eye tracking (not fucking likely) or if your entire head motion was what was controlling shit. Either way, my favorite part of this article is the commenter who points out that TopGun is the past – and America hasn’t engaged in any jet dog fighting for a long time. (and likely never will again). THAT seems like the scifi part of this news – that jet dogfighting is OVER. Like broadswords. it’s time has passed. Still. I want one of these bastards!

GoPro 3D Hero, Battery, and LCD BacPac hands-on
When watching the “Cyborg anthropology” lecture and Q&A (thanks Jonason), I found out my girlfriend Carrie is obsessed with wearable computing. I’m curious about it too. So … I plan to read/research this news link more. later. sometime.

Livescribe hack lets you play Zork with (smart) pen and paper
I’m lightly obsessed with text adventures. Sooo. had to note this news. I’m more interested in the possibilities when you bring speech recognition into the mix (and cell phones. and 1900 numbers. and txting a player their level when they quit, like a save game). Anywho. I love the idea of a game that you play by writing shit down with a pen. Didn’t actually watch the whole video though. Turned off by the micro display bullshit. But this might also be a cool MT table game…?

Vizio ‘Versus’ offers two-player head-to-head gaming on one screen
I love the idea of abusing tech. Gibson cyberpunk style. This is a company not a street urchin. but. using stereoscopic tech to serve up two images on the same screen – for two different people – SOUNDS FUCKING AWESOME. Super great fucking idea. Can’t wait till someone offers up a movie that shows one R-rated view to adult glasses, and a different PG-13 view to kid’s glasses. or maybe that should be X and PG variation. or gay and straight variations. Yes, “watching porn together” that’s what this makes me dream about.

Sega Announces game you play with pee, at the urinal!
Clearly this is the most important news to Issue Forth today. I can’t even wrap my head around the idea of games that you play by performing a daily bodily function. Not since Jesse Schell’s visionary “Achievements for Everyday Living” speech (video) Have I been so bowled over by the insanity of modern innovation.

Razer Switchblade – A revolution in portable keyboard Gaming
Each key is a display, so they can change their value (visibly) for each game. Cool. Tech heads will remember that some (shady?) russians did this a couple years back in the Optimus Maximus Keyboard. But that was vaporware for a couple years, then slipped out quietly in limited release – with a ridiculous price. Wonder how this “Switchblade” product’s development cycle related to that other failed device. (seriously. inspired by? crossover developers? unaware of it? planned as a competitor the moment OM was announced?)
Well, Switchblade Looks cool. but would be cooler if all the keys were touch sensitive. so you could sweep your fingers to gesture across them – like a giant mouse pad. (Like 40 ipod nanos). As it is- i still need whip out a mouse and find a surface to place it on? fail. Ruins the whole pitch for me.


More Insane Rambling Nonsense about Surface Version 2. (2urface? Le Dos Surface? DOSurface?)
First thought, when Victor sent this over the mashable link last night: Well there goes my phase table project! NoooOOOOOooooOOO! Then I wondered
– if ballmer was called out to show 10 more fingers (at the end of the MS CES presentation’s video clip) was a sign that it would track far fewer points than the original surface. it made sense to think there might be a trade off like this. If there are hundreds of sensors arrayed beneath the screen, it makes sense this might be an image processing beast. In the video there’s a notable delay in the water ripples, and it seemed to get worse as Ballmer touched down. And the slick presenter almost immediately said “THANKYOU” – perhaps to warn ballmer off (though I’m sure they had a mandate to move along quickly… still…)
– then I wondered if the cost would be pushed up beyond the older model’s $12,000 price point. At first it seemed like nobody was reporting a price. Which would suggest it was a one-off prototype designed to look like magic. butttt…

Wrong on both negative guesses: <a href=”“>ZDnet layed it out as $7,600 and over 50 points. (This was the first link to this detailed info I found on Google with the price point this morning).

So. If this isn’t an overhyped prototype (ala kinect – which was announced initially demoed like magic at E3 2009, then lost features and resolution by the time it launched in November 2010), then Surface 2 looks damned solid. The most important and timely microsoft development since kinect. Should be a good year for them. (and their stock. I wonder idly at how the careful-innovation-news-rollout-keeps-our-stock-rising-each-year game is played. because Microsoft is finally playing it right.

I remember watching live video of the last CES keynote that Bill Gates gave (2 years ago? more?), and enjoying the concepts of wall projection computing, and cooking recipe help, and cell phones connecting to games and bus schedules. but they all seemed like bullshit from scifi novels, not like products coming out any time soon. I doubt it helped their stock. but Kinect is played this interest game during the year it was hyped and released.
. First Kinect smashed your face by promising an impossible leap beyond any one else’s motion control concept at E3(May 2009? this press conference clearly was the best ever, btw). This was followed by a few months of kinda iffy hands-on impressions, where people had to mention there was a dude behind the curtain, sitting nearby with a laptop – no doubt enhancing and correcting any problems. this repeated detail made most think it probably wouldn’t be as good as they claimed. at the very least it was still being developed despite being announced.
. Then around January there was news that the Kinect was going to strip out some on-board processing to save money, and offload to the xbox hardware. this was horrific betrayal in my mind, because of my experience with NaturalPoint’s TrackIR system and brief talks with Sony guys at past E3’s about why the Eyetoy wasn’t picked up by mainstream games (hint: they wouldn’t trade off graphics for eyetoy imageprocessing). And some where in there it was announced that they’d be releasing endless software updates – turning the “it’s-perfected” classic hardware model into more of a “work-in-progress” subscription model (in my head). I remember I had the sense this was microsoft’s way of saying “look, we ain’t sony. we don’t perfect hardware. we do software tweaks forever. deal.”
-then there was the strange Kinect du soleil press event to trump the next-day E3 press conference. Which doused kinect in a very interesting flavor of dark french circus mystery. (the press conference was much more starched color fake-rich-yuppie in flavor). but this lead the way to reports of “i’ve tried it and it works”.
– somewhere around here there are a string of bizarre rumors. that Kinect could never track people sitting down. That it couldn’t track certain ethnicities or lighting conditions. I remember Microsoft seemed strangely slow on the PR game at this point. taking way too long to crush these rumors. This was also around the first time in years that Sony stopped making huge press faux pas, so i suspect sony hired a good PR battle firm to muzzle their execs and take the fight back to microsoft.
– months later the price point is released, and all I read was endless critics crying over $150 being way too high (though it never struck me as that bad. Even if it was just 3 web cams and 4 mics, that’d be reasonable – much less with a depth camera, and mysterious on board hardware. Around E3 someone released photos of the guts, and the bitch looked packed tight with weird shit.).
– Then it came out, amidst a huge marketing push, and totally delivered. Two months ago.

and now we have announcement of Surface 2 : which fixes all the original Surface concerns (and all concerns everyone’s had with MT tables in general?), as well as acting like a leapfrog to the iPad. for way less than the original’s cost, with a new usage focus on restaurants/bars instead of casinos/hotels. Plus some subtle jabs that they didn’t buy pixelsense from anyone, having developed it internally for years. All this adds up to me feeling assured that Microsoft is going to deliver solid shit. on top of their game.

I’m curious how it reads to those who predicted the company would quickly die following the exit of Bill Gates.

here is the only potential wrinkle that sticks in my craw (as i struggle to swallowall of this huge news):
Apparently Surface 2 only uses the new ARM architecture, under a new version of Windows7, which doesn’t support x86 based programs. And never will? …”Sinofsky explained that ‘x86 programs don’t run on the ARM architecture, and it’s not likely that there’ll be virtualization.’…” How is this good news? what the fuck is this? hmm….

Also this horribly tacky official boring commercial sticks in my craw. But. MS seems to be carving out this specific niche of HORRIBLY AWEFUL announcement adverts. “Plastic Seattle Yuppie” I’d call it. ugh.
This advertisement was the first thing to make me think “how close are you supposed to sit to a tv?” Not the reams of articles I’d just read. No no. the advert. It also makes me cringe at the proximity of the unborn baby to all this technology. I’m sure they wanted to show all MS devices working together in a new way (for baby video), despite the fact this scenario would NEVER HAPPEN (dad shaky cam recording a video off a doctor’s office tableTV instead of just acquiring the source file). Whatever. I just found myself staring at that fetus, worrying about how much radiation it must be soaking up this close to THE FUTURE. eek.

Definitely looking forward to learning more about the pixelsense tech. I bet it’ll take them a couple months to post “tech specs” on the official website (i wonder if they regret posting a tech specs pdf for the first Surface…).
I’d kinda like to just give up and go play videos games. quietly. while crying. and drunk. potentially even with the emptied heroin needles left hanging from my bloodshot eyes.

2 thoughts on “CES 2011 – Surface 2

  1. More cool links:

    Hands on Surface 2 video:

    Microsoft’s knock off of Magic Mouse (hands on)
    (potential to be more useful. but already lost in the aesthetics department)

    Recon next-gen GPS goggles
    (not sure exactly what i’m looking at here. but. sexy design. and nice marketing confusion! i’m confused by your message! how much did you spend on this baffling mess of a promotion? Bravo!)

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