“I brought a desk with me, it’s really cool.”

DigiDeskA desk has never been so fascinating before, but not a lot of desks comes with a touchable surface and heads-up display. It’s safe to say, Russ Burtner’s desk kicks the crap out of every other desk out there, including those irresistible IKEA desks. Of course, this desk doesn’t come disassembled or with an instruction manual, and there’s only two in the world, but it’s Microsoft Center for Information Work‘s latest innovation demoed at the Convergence 2007 conference in early March appropriately named “DigiDesk” – a Microsoft trend for giving cool products crap names.

I’m hitting myself for not picking this up earlier, I thank a friend who brought this to my attention today. What you see here is a prototype of Microsoft’s vision of future computing scenarios in the workplace, because you know, they need something costly to drain some of that $5 billion quarterly profit of theirs.

I really don’t think I could work at a desk like that, I’d be too busy flicking documents around. :D

51 insightful thoughts

  1. Seems more useful as a kiosk than a real usable desk. From an ergonomics point-of-view, if you sit down and use this “product” your neck is going to bend HEAPS. So unless you want to break your neck so to say, this product is designed for “standing use”

  2. Looks cool, but it’s probably just a dream similar to the paper free office. It’s just too cumbersome and awkward to be really useful. Like the voice recognition stuff. It’s just so much simpler and faster to use a keyboard.

    And just imagine keeping the thing clean. I have trouble keeping my monitor clean now, just imagine the coffee stains on that one :)

  3. @Johan: So true! Touch screen is easy and cool, but abstract interfaces often are faster, accurate and more powerfull: Touch/gesture/speak > mouse > keyboard.

  4. To me it’s all like seeing the amazing PDC 03 Longhorn demos. All really cool amazing work. But again, it never happens in a real Ms Product.

    One of the interesting things is the “radio dial”. Now to me, thats whats known to us as the “Pie Menu” that Ms have been playing with. And we might see it come in Windows Vienna.

    For the speech stuff, again Ms have been playing with speech queries in some of the other Future Office Demos that i have seen.

    One thing that pisses me off, is when i see Ms showing off the searching for files/documents. Again in this demo we see stuff that WinFS would have provided us on Vista. Then of course we have the lovely eye candy like the animations to file Stacks that actually displaying how many items in search unlike Vistas static stacks.

  5. ah… sorry about comment under comment :P
    DigiDesk? i think that we get someday something different. like with longhorn; beautiful plans, cool visual framing… and finally, just an XP with different shell ;P *end of lame joke*

  6. In Vista’s defence. Its alot more than just a new shell. when it comes to whats been changed under the hood. But yes you are right. When it comes to END USER features. Vista doesnt offer much over XP.

  7. The coolest part of that demo is the stuff WinFX would have provided – a relational, contextual database linking every file and piece of informtion on the computer together. Names linked to Contacts, trails of who edited what in files, ability to automatically transmit information to the relevant people – all fantastic stuff, all very cool, none of it available.

    As pretty as it is – and it’s far prettier than Vista – none of it’s even remotely possibly (at that level of seamlessness, anyway) without a relational file system to track and relate information on the computer. Until then, we’re stuck with manual actions.

    Admittedly, I don’t appreciate how Microsoft strips away the soul of its products before shipping. Understandable, just not very cool.

    It also looke very similar to the PDC 2003 stuff.

  8. Oh my god!…
    I want one of those for christmas! O_O
    very nice… Viewing that is like being on future for five minutes…

  9. “From an ergonomics point-of-view, if you sit down and use this “product” your neck is going to bend HEAPS. So unless you want to break your neck so to say, this product is designed for “standing use'”

    Er…you mean like a desk? Weren’t people using those for hundreds of years before they got monitors and started looking up?

  10. So HOT! I want my next PC to have it. Its nice to see a multi touch interface used in a practical application.

  11. To Michael Griffiths:
    You’re dead right.

    But just to clarify

    “The coolest part of that demo is the stuff WinFX would have provided – a relational, contextual database”

    It’s WinFS that would have provided that not WinFX. Though WinFS was once a part of WinFX, WinFX did get released with all the planned features bar WinFS.

  12. Some of you guys don’t understand what this is… It’s not a new windows, it was running in Vista, using DirectX10, built probably in Sparkle.

    This is the feature what someone can do with Vista…

    You people have no imagination and not many of you even considered how this was made… Think for a second or two.

  13. All I’m saying in that since WinFS is gone. Most of the cool data sorting stuff is gone.

    Though I’m sure Ms will slowly release the features of WinFS in separate frameworks that will slowly trickle back down into the windows shell.
    And theres no hiding it, Ms have showed off cool stuff like this before but we are yet to see anything even close to it in a retail product.

    Heres another Demo they have done
    http://soapbox.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=1c26eca7-649d-4377-9ae2-d6647025a0eb

  14. I’ve never gotten what the big deal about WinFS is. As has been said elsewhere, most of the normal cool stuff is already there through other means. It’s real utility seems to be as something to latch onto that wasn’t brought to market in Vista.

  15. Star Trek: The Next Generation meets today. (The show used a system called LCARS, or Library Computer Access and Retrival System) Next step is standardizing input so that your computer approaches the transparent nature of a piece of paper.

  16. The usability and other issues can be tweaked once the customer feedback kicks in. But imaging you cutting of all the other issues compared to the traditional desktops. This is a definite a big one…but not a great name.

  17. This desk is gay. It’s impractical unless you are a security rent-a-cop sitting there needing to watch people or something. It also looks gay. Where to put my piece of paper without covering my main display? And the vertical screen is rubbish…washed out projection rubbish.

    This looks like a fancy version of tabletop space invaders…it is about as futuristic as those old table top pac-man games they used to have in bars.

  18. Most of these comments, like the one directly above show a lot of ignorance…

    Microsoft is not releasing this as a PRODUCT it’s a DEMO of what CAN be done using SilverLight in VISTA…

    Get a freagin clue people, most of these comments are redundant or just wrong.

    Yeah, someone else did something like this… Except it wasn’t done in a framework for full use by other people, it was done by someone and only for that one person, it wasn’t a framework…

    I hope most of you don’t have jobs as IT or creative professionals, or even manage someone under you, lol.

  19. I think that it might work, but I do agree with a lot of you that it does not seem that practical on a everyday basis.

  20. Looks awesome. I can see some uses in the shipping, traffic management, and aerospace industries, maybe the air traffic controller’s stations.

    I see a lot of potential with personalizing it for you’re individual taste. ie. you bring up the latest play list from you itunes box, send them out too you ipod box and play them out by the pool, and in the back yard, order pizza, answer emails, watch your stocks in real time, do a quick ajustment between your stock profile and your realestate holdings. You just got you’re confirmation that you won an Ebay Action they need details. Breeze through your collecton of videos, pull up a movie through blockbuster instead, send to the main tv. Phone call… It’s Susan in India she has a webphone I bring her up on screen, she waves… ect ect ect YMMV.

    Wait till the kids get a hold of it, and see what they do with it.

    Rick Smith
    “Never give a monkey a stick, he’ll only hurt himself, or worse you.”

  21. ooooh my god I have the same design of that such called operation system or however called, that stands on that desk, and i don’t believe it … I make the similar “system” on PowerPoint and it works really okay .. and i hope that in a nearest future, if star trek lands on roof of my flat hahaaha, and by the way it’s a nice idea and good job, thank you, i wanna work in that Part (Design Center) of Microsoft but how i can do this can anyone tell me hehehe? thx a lot..

  22. This is not multitouch interface, this is a regular kiosk interface. On demo he used to scale (very buggy) side controls. Microsoft again is payng money for nothing.
    Second: projection cannot deliver image quality of 200dpi lcd monitor:))
    The real multitouch interface is demonstrated here from mister jeff hann:

  23. It really really annoys me whenever I see that bill gates, i thought he was meant to be off saving africa or something (yes right more like selling as many versions of his buggy operating system to as many presidents in cut price deals like has throughout the rest of the world).

    Jeff Han invented this interface and this is microsoft table such a rip off.

    It just goes to show the hard work of university research departments rarely get funded by big business, but big business will readily take the research claim its their own and that they reinvented the wheel. It makes you think there is very little difference between how disciplines like biology and drugs companies, art and advertising to name a few

    I Suggest microsoft doing something more useful. like get web standards to work in their browser or give up the browser market as soon as possible. I have a few hours to deal with a css driven button not coming out correctly in IE , what fun.

  24. GJ Steve for pointing out that this was originally done by Jeff Han. Its true that Microsoft does like to steal things, but now they actually have Han working for them. This desk didn’t seem to be multi touch and seems much crappier than another Microsoft demo found here: http://elifoner.com/240

    This kind of desk is the future and anyone who says different needs to start thinking.

    so yes Microsoft stole this but only be hiring Jeff Han to work for them. Microsoft may not even be able to manufacture this product. They aren’t allowed to make computers so we’ll see if they can make this “desktop computer”

  25. Intersting concept, I see it as a good home tool replace ure coffee tabel with that, and play parlor games with the kdis, imagine a late night poker game on that hahaha, or virtual monopoly, or even Mario party lol…. I saw another model, where a normal sized keyboard can pop upon screen, which is great and works well, so I see this as a center peice for home computing, not gaming thoughs…. I think gamers will be using there beige Keyboards and mouses for along time to come….

  26. To Mike Minor,
    “Microsoft is not releasing this as a PRODUCT it’s a DEMO of what CAN be done using SilverLight in VISTA…”

    Just for the record. Its not using Silverlight.

    Silverlight isnt even as powerful as WPF aka Avalon.

    Also i blieve that this was done using pure DX10 and not even Avalon.

  27. Три пути ведут к знанию: путь размышления – это путь самый благородный, путь подражания – это путь самый легкий и путь опыта – это путь самый горький.

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