When I saw the Microsoft surface demonstration I was saying things like “wow…very impressive!” and “oh…that’s cool”  It wasn’t necessarily groundbreaking as many of the ideas of the touch interface are also employed in technology like the iPhone,  the pinch and zoom in particular. But it was very impressive when you could drag photos from one camera to another simply by placing the camera on the table. I’m not sure how often that feature might get used on a day to day basis but it sure makes photo transfers a snap when you need it.

The most useful demo was setting down a credit card and then dragging your meals to it on the touch screen surface. This solves a real efficiency problem in restaurants making it very streamlined in how you select and pay for your meal especially amongst a group of people. This was an example of a technology solving a problem or doing a process better. 2 points Microsoft.

However it is not without potential downfalls. It would fit very nicely into markets like sport restaurants or casinos, but I can’t imagine having this screen throwings ads at my face while I eat at the Olive Garden or my local quiet restaurant. And you know they’re going to run a ton of ads on it and while I’m eating and I certainly don’t want a light up display under me advertising the latest special on mozerella sticks at Chili’s.  I already go to the movies and have to sit through TV commercials and a slide show of loud ads before the movie even starts. This Surface technology could be more of the same, and please oh please don’t have it make sounds at me too. We learned that lesson with noisy flashy websites. Aren’t we already overly video/audio bombarded in society? Remember Minority  Report?

Tom Cruise annoys me enough let alone this potential marketing dystopia. The idea of successful technology is something that goes beyond being cool or flashy. Apple has recognized the idea of finding niches and doing things better in those niches to serve it’s users. Apple saw the mp3 player and knew it could do it better, they saw the cell phone and knew there was a better solution. I’m not sure if Surface is identifying anything that’s being done poorly besides the bill paying solution to warrant a business investment for it’s price but it raises some interesting new ideas. As the cost of the technology comes down it just may find some useful niches. If not then it just may become more flashy noise in already over stimulated world.