Microsoft Surface touches down in the UK

The Microsoft Surface has hit the UK, well one has anyway, and Pocket-lint was on hand to give it a spin.

The interactive coffee table, which weighs 300lbs, is being used by London design agency Splendid to show retailers what the touchy feely device can do for them and their business.

Examples so far include a mapping system for hotel lobbies, an application for Aston Martin that allows prospective customers to see what their new car will look like at the touch of the screen, and an interactive drinks table with DQ vodka for bars up and down the land.

"The possibilities are endless", Paul Bishop MD of the company told Pocket-lint. "You could use this in retail, in the home, for military use, even air traffic control".

The Microsoft Surface isn't a large touchscreen, but instead a system that fires thousands of infra-red beams onto a surface. Breaking those beams allows you to interact with the device that is powered by a Vista run PC.

Because it's not a touchscreen like the iPhone or BlackBerry Storm you can have multiple touches, but none of those touches are resistive, however the big advantage is that you can tag items to be recognised by the system like a wine glass, mobile phone or anything else for that matter.

One futuristic concept for the Surface is to let people load up their airline ticket with movies they plan to watch on the plane. Using QR barcodes, information can be passed to device and then stored in "The Cloud" to be picked up by other web-enabled devices.

When are we likely to see the Microsoft Surface in the UK in retail outlets or the home? Bishop believes you'll start to see them in hotels, car showroom and other retail outlets in 2009. Microsoft itself is saying it plans to hit the home scene in 2010.

"The software is there, the price isn't that expensive", he told us. "It's just a matter of time".

We will keep you posted.