(UPDATED) Next Gen Microsoft Surface 'Imminent'

Microsoft Surface has largely been an exciting tech demo, with highly original interface concepts limited by the bulky and expensive nature of the device itself. But word from one of the foremost software developers for the Microsoft Surface indicates the next generation is ‘imminent’ and will make the platform far more versatile

UPDATE: Iain McDonald of agency Amnesia Razorfish, owned by Microsoft until late 2009 and now part of the Publicis Groupe, sent us this comment today, distancing himself from what we heard yesterday:

“There have been a few rumours on the web about another version of Surface but we don’t have any details yet. We would hope given our experience using the table that the next version will be much flatter and more portable. Higher resolution image recognition would be a bonus as it would remove the need for tags. Of course price is an issue for clients and there are a growing number of alternative touchscreen solutions so I hope any future versions of surface will be more competitive. If we hear of a release we’ll be the first ones putting down an order.”

Gizmodo has heard the next generation Microsoft Surface will indeed be a flat surface concept, not the entire coffee table system with cameras and projectors living underneath. The new Surface will also have higher resolution cameras so that special codes will no longer be required to identify objects. And the new Surface will also be around $8,000 (whether this was USD or AUD wasn’t specified).

When asked if they were aiming to ship in 2011, McDonald suggested the release was ‘imminent’. Amnesia Razorfish has placed its order, and is just waiting on final shipping date before it’s heading down to their Sydney office. Given the delays on initial release of the original Surface to public availability it may be that any ‘imminent’ release would be to close partners and developers, such as AR.

As part of a short demo on current hardware, McDonald also showed how Amnesia Razorfish has developed smartphone app integration to allow the placement of a device onto a Microsoft Surface for direct interface with the table. Objects can be pushed to the smartphone, or pushed down to the Surface, and in the examples both an iPhone and an iPad screen merged with the screen of the Surface to become part of the same interface.

McDonald suggested this programming breakthrough is an important milestone in the evolution of Microsoft Surface. Such interactions make the Surface much more transactional, allowing users to come to a Surface to instantly acquire digital content, or push content down for others to share.

Sounds like very soon we might just see the Surface starting to reach out toward its full potential.

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