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Microsoft asks students to imagine the limit of Surface - we learn there is none

Earlier this week, Microsoft introduced the next generation of their Surface tablet hybrid. The Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 were announced alongside, the Surface Music Cover, a new “blade” which allows users to easily remix music on a special touch sensitive cover. The venture has shown us that Surface has many capabilities beyond a typical keyboard and the Surface team headed to the Art Center College of Design to find out exactly how far Surface can go.

Students at the college were simply asked, “What if you could click in something else to your Surface?” With this question, almost a dozen students set out to test the limits of industrial, graphic, and interaction design - The results, were outstanding.

After a video montage of pizza, dubstep music, and endless drafts, the question “what if” was posed. What if the blade could be a painting Surface… a solar panel… provide a new way to navigate through space… help to diagnose someone?

This is truly Microsoft’s original goal with Surface. When the project was originally announced, we knew they were looking to go farther than an iPad or a standard tablet – the company set out to create a device that could change the world of computing and interaction, as we know it. And of course, the backend is powered by Windows 8.

Microsoft’s idea to turn the cover into much more than just a standard keyboard starts with Surface 2 – the question for the future is to ask, how our interaction with modern day computers will be changed. What are the possibilities with Surface?

The video is inspiring and really shows how far Microsoft’s Surface product can be taken. Look at the video and let us know what your favorite possibility for Surface is. I found the fold up piano keyboard as a wild idea.

Source: Microsoft

  • If it could be a solar panel used to power my Surface, then just take my money Microsoft
  • Nokia is coming with that. Oops I mean Microsoft.
  • I like that idea.
  • And a little wind turbine accessory...:D
  • Nah. Give me an old-fashioned coal-powered portable generator! Maybe for Surface 3? ;) (kidding)
  • Or Nuclear plant!
  • A dam.
  • As cool as this is, I was really hoping that they actually made prototypes of some of the stuff, and we could see them work. That would have been really neat to see some of it in action. The paint one looked really neat, and you really could do a whole "Art box" one. Have it include all the menu stuff from photoshop like paint brush, pen, smudge, etc. I'd be really interested to see what they could do with it.
  • That would go back a bit to the Courier concept :-)
  • You get that with the Surface Pro 2 and Photoshop....
  • Same here... Was expecting prototypes or such. Maybe it's a precursur video. One thing I will say though is it does open the consumer's mind to realise (much like Apple's proprietary port) that this connnection can mean a lot of different possibilities. TBH I didn't think of it so much before.
  • the limit does not exist!
  • Fold out Hello Kitty sex puppet. I think that may be the limit.
  • You would be wrong.
  • That brings a whole new meaning to "Click in and do more".
  • LMAO
  • I really want the surface 2. Not the pro. The color is so elegant.
  • +1
  • +620
  • "we knew they were looking to go farther than an iPad or a standard tablet"
    Typo there.
    The ipad IS a standard tablet.
  • Not even. A standard Tablet would be a current Full OS Tablet like those running Win 7 or 8. ipad is simply a media device in tablet form.
  • Wacom Cover
  • SP has a Wacom layer on the screen.
  • Yes the SP has the technology built in but the price is too high for me when the RT does most of what I need already. It's not practical to pay twice as much just for the ability to draw when an optional cover would be the better solution.
  • Took the words right out of my mouth. Dear lord, please make this happen Microsoft! I need the ability to draw with my Surface to make it complete. >_
  • Now hopefully they actually build and release some of these cool things rather than just having concept ideas that we don't see for years if ever.
  • whoa.  that wrinkled my brain!
    wish this had come out a year ago, AFTER they had already coordinated with third party equipment makers so that we'd have seen the first blades coming out about 6 months ago.  Imagine how much more hype the Surface would have had.
  • Connect a Surface to.... ...another Surface! Boom! Courier.
  • You just took the words out of my mouth haha ..
  • would be awesome, heck connect the Surface to a Surface Pro would be awesome to so one would something you can bring every where and one would be your power house unit.
  • full length piano a 3-piece that's amazing stuff.
  • The "click in" campaign really only makes sense with this blade concept. Up to now (and I guess still) it implies that you need to click something in to really use the Surface. Hopefully more blades will come soon.
  • Surface mini :P
  • Microsoft should make a single touch cover with an e-ink top layer, gently backlit. Then the customisation possibilities are endless, including as the standard keyboard. That would be a game changer.
  • ^this
  • And you could use it for reading when folded back like a Kindle.
  • I told my sister the same idea, that would be amazing and a real game changer, it could change into any blade you need to and you won't have to carry 3-4 blades around, and eBook reading as well.
  • This is what i was thinking.
    Instead of owning loads of these different blades, the next step would be to create one blade that can perform multiple tasks. Download an app to change the properties of the blade. Similar to Razer's additional keyboard section that changes depending on what you are doing (i forget the name).
  • Yes this. Simply build a blade with as many sensors you can fit on the surface like they did to the new Touch Cover 2. Then allow a framework where developers can tap into it and have different layouts appear according to the app.
  • Awesome! I want to work on the Surface Team! they are incredibly talented people! so innovative!
  • now ipad looks like not cool at all now :)
  • A gaming keyboard or programming keyboard should have been an easy duh. Like a mouse pad area, some macro keys and 123456/qwerty/asdfg/zxcvb/crtl,alt space, mobile gamers dream. But alas Intel HD fraphis are eh... If AMD would make a power sipping APU with radeon graphics...BAM!!
  • The new verge cast episode, they casters weren't so optimistic with the surface and pointless accessories.
  • For some reason I keep looking at the Surface 2 but not the pro. Normally for me its always the strongest of devices. But then my tablet now is just a mate to my main machine, more or less the family living room toy.
  • Since MS announced the Surface 2, a lot of people have been criticizing RT's woes and predicted its unavoidable failure.  They have totally overlooked the Blade potentials.  The Blade compliant peripherals can turn Surface 2 into unlimited potential applications which will go way beyond what people commonly perceived the tablet as a lite weight laptop.  These added values could make Surface 2 much more attractive than the cheaper W8 BayTrail tablets.  With more entertainment and business blades coming to the market, the value of Surface 2 will keep increasing.  The Blade concept could turn out to be a revolutionary Interconnection standard among industries.  All the electrical equipment today have some kinds of physical measurement units which are interconnected to a built-in computer unit to process, calculate, display and store data.  With a proper designed Surface Blade compliant interface, the physical measurement units can directly communicate with Surface 2 to do those computing work and store data in the Cloud.  Some of the electrical equipment can be manufactured at much lower costs by handling over the expensive computing function to Surface 2 and focus only on making the physical measuring units.  The Surface 2 can be packaged in an industrial grade casing for the industry use.  So the Blade standard potential can be as big as we can imagine.
    Some potential Blade applications:
    1. A piano keyboard Blade can turn Surface 2 into a music composing system
    2. Different language keyboard Blades can help the world population using different languages
    3. Testing equipment interface Blade bring physical data to Surface for processing and storing in the Cloud.
    So may be the Surface 2 is not that expensive after all.  :)
  • Ugh, Microsoft and that trash they call music. If Google wasn't culturally worse in so many additional respects I'd ditch WP in a heartbeat.
    Also, while this really made me see the surface as a much more versatile, capable and amazing device, I just know that it won't happen for Microsoft. Either someone, like apple or google, will come up with something that makes this look primitive as heck, or Microsoft will not invest in it like they should, or it will simply not be something people care for (like free video calls, I remember how futuristic and amazing that seemed to be in the 90s to dumb apes like me, now its meh unless you're talking to someone you only get to see once every 20 years or something).
  • You dismiss a technology as dumb if you find no use for it, despite that technology's widespread appeal to segments of the population other than your own? No sir, you belong on WP. Or at least WPC.
  • The Limit of the Surface RT and the Surface RT 2.
    CAN'T DO IT!!!!!!
    THERE'S YOUR LIMIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    P.S. I KNOW IT'S IN CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • There will be an Assassin blade with thin knives, needles, shuriken, and mini blades. This screen will be used to view kill contracts and the blades will contain the ninja weapons of death.
  • Just release special edition surface. Like HALO themed surface, includes HALO installed, halo themed cover, military standard that you can bring to battlefield, waterproof IP5678whatever, a plus if its cover can withstand AK .. wait a minute.. that would be great, you can sell it separately a bulletproof cover.
  • How about Battlefield 4? Muhahaha
  • Seeing the Nokia acquisition in this light, MS is getting facilities to build ideas at their will, without having to convince a partner about profitability etc.
  • I'm particularly interested in the possibility of medical diagnostic tools that could be implemented. That would be neat to hear what that student had in mind.
  • An Adobe application keyboard would be usefull, put the toolbars on the keyboard will save some precious space in the screen.
  • I have this wierd idea.
    What if we print a grid of lines like that in a chess board, with each at right angle. Use selective lighting of the grid lines to make any keyboard layout. Now you can have a layout where anything type of button layout can be created.
    We may additionally need ways to represent/show keys in this grid.
    Lets not say its similar to using a touch based keyboard, but better as we'll have a full layout highlighted by the lights on the edges and keys that gets pressed.
  • I can think of a limit. Using Bluetooth and WiFi at the same time. Wasn't designed for that apparently.
  • Backlit e-ink display with dynamic haptic feedback.  To configure the entire cover along with the ability to feel different textures based on what the layout would be incredible.
  •    I just hope some of these ideas come to fruition.
  • A start button. (not that it's touch screen users that feel rejected by the lack of it)
  • Still not available in indonesia. What you think MSFT?!?!??
  • A Blade with Bose speakers, to turn the Surface 2 into an awesome movie watching platform.
    A Blade with palm print scanner!
    A Blade which can record your blood sugar level, put it up on the cloud, and in the case of it hitting extremes, contact your doctor for you!
    A Blade with normal keyboard, and sim card slot!
    It can go on and on!
    But first please make it available in India.
  • how about a washing machine connected to my Windows 8? wheww