Microsoft demos possible future of Surface

Microsoft has demoed a series of new technologies, that could easily become part of the next Microsoft Surface, at a behind-the-scenes day at its Research Lab in Cambridge.

Although Microsoft Research admits it has no control over whether or not its projects are picked and commercialised, spokespeople for the two projects we were shown both agree that the technology could make its way into a future version of the touch-enabled coffee table.

Trying to make the Surface more accessible to the family, "Family Archive" works in a similar way to the Surface, however it introduces a digital camera that hovers above the screen allowing users to snap objects allowing them to be added.

Shown on a smaller screened version, pressing a button snaps a picture of an object, then its background, before importing it to be shared and manipulated like any other picture.

"SecondLight" is far more adventurous in its aims. It aims to take the projection on the Surface and allow you to view it above the actual screen within a three-dimensional space.

Using two projectors that are in sync the technology projects two images, one which you can see on the screen and the other that you can see with the help of tracing paper. The technology means that using a “reading glass” you could see details, which appear not to be there.

Microsoft demoed the new technology to Pocket-lint with the example of viewing a map with the corresponding overlay and a star constellation, with key stars shown only when using the “reading glass”.

Taking the technology one step further Microsoft outlines an example that could see you scooping information off the screen with a special device that, say the company, would be very cheap to make. Users could then look at the information privately (as long as the “reading glass” is still over the surface of the screen) before putting it back.

Another example is that a three-dimensional object could be displayed, with the “reading glass” able to slice through it seeing different layers. Microsoft here gave the example of doctors looking at a brain.

As with all research projects no word on when this will come to light, however the researcher who demoed SecondLight to us hoped to see it in a future iteration of the Surface within the next 5 years.