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Daily Debrief: Decoupling from the PC interfaceAs a big research conference gets under way, Charles Cooper speaks with Ina Fried about the latest thinking among computer scientists on how to revolutionize the human-PC interface.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:03 >> How long before mice and keyboards are longer the primary interface between humans and computers? Welcome to the CNET News Daily Debrief. I'm Charles Cooper here with my colleague Ina Fried. Ina, there's gonna be an interesting conference taking place this week in Monterey, California about this entire issue of interface. Can you bring us up to speed on what we should expect to hear? >> Sure. I mean, we're really getting to the point where it's not that the mice and keyboard are going away. So, I'm sorry if that's what you were hoping for. >> I mess-up, you know the coffee, breadcrumbs and my keyboard is a mess. I can't wait for this era to arrive. >> Yeah. I don't think for the average office worker it's like we're gonna suddenly be, you know telepathy to control it. I do think computers are gonna pop-up in new places and where they come in new places, there will be new interfaces. Touch is rapidly growing as an interface. Speech is another area that's getting much bigger. A lot of thess stuff at this conference is gonna be around new ways of interacting around touch particularly from Microsoft. >> Microsoft has done a lot of work in that area, what's been the uptake so far. >> Sure, so I mean, commercially we've seen it in a couple of areas. We've seen certainly the iPhone and it's touch gestures have been big, as well as Microsoft's Surface tabletop is just starting to being plugged commercially at things like hotels and casinos. But Microsoft research is actually a lot further ahead in terms of these things. They were talking about things like Surface a few years ago and now they're really looking at where does that technology go next. So they have a three or four different interesting ideas of how do we take touch further than it has been so far. >> And now, in order to bring this into the main stream, it's a question of what, physics, or cost or both? >> Both. I mean, in terms of bringing it to the main stream you've got both. At this conference it's really not about the cost side. They're really looking at the physics side, the 'what's possible,' you know, it's up to the business guys to figure out what can be done in the marketplace, but this conference is really about the folks from the research side of things and how can they advance the state-of-the-art technologically and they're doing it in a few different areas. >> And can you talk a little bit about Microsoft's Surface initiative, when did they start coming out in the market place, what was the original ambition, etcetera. >> Sure, I mean on the commercial side, it's only been a couple of years. Microsoft announced about, you know two years ago where it was going with this. They showed off the first Surface Tabletop and commercially it's just getting going. These things are still pretty expensive, they cost about -- I don't know, five, $10,000 a piece. They're huge. The applications are fairly limited, so just at the beginning. But research is actually been working on this for years and they're a lot further ahead, you know, they've already moved beyond the tabletop to other types of things. One of them we showed earlier this year was Sphere. That's gonna be talked about at the conference, that's a round surface computer. Good for things like mapping and so forth, but you know one of the other projects, you know -- Surface, the computing interface is right on literally the surface of the computer. >> It would be as if were at this table was to consider interface. >> Exactly. So one of the things they're showing is how the surface could be displaying one thing and then there could be another display above that that could be maybe reflecting on a piece of paper, but basically two things bringing that display into the actual world. So this display might be showing maybe the Microsoft logo, but this piece of paper that I have would have notes or something else. >> So, it's 2008, by 2010 is this something that's gonna be a mainstream product? >> Probably not. I mean, it takes some time for some of these things. You know, typically, the things that we see at these conferences are the state of the art, as we talked about. It's less about how expensive it is. I think what you're gonna see is that technology in the surface get brought to the mainstream maybe by 2010, 2011. You're gonna see sooner in Windows 7 some basic gestures moved from the cell phone to the desktop. >> Good deal, thanks. On behalf of CNET News I'm Charles Cooper. ^M00:04:03 [ Music ]