Surfacing

Over a year-and-a-half ago, I said we would have one in our new library.

Fait accompli.

Our Surface arrived this week.  We’ve been talking about it internally for awhile as a theoretical purchase.  Now it’s a reality.  It’s already made Microsoft’s Surface Blog, too!  It’s actually surprisingly easy to get one.  I thought we’d have to jump through hoops, sign NDAs, and give up our first-borns.  Not so.

So what are we going to do with it?  We’re giving it to the kids.  We have a perfect little niche in the Children’s Room that was literally designed with power and data in the floor to accommodate surface computing.  Yes that’s right.  Designed for the Surface.

We decided to put it in the Children’s Room for several very basic reasons.  Kids will just “get it” immediately without any explanation.  Kids are tactile creatures who are very comfortable with hands-on activity.  If we can give them a piece of really cool technology they’ve never seen before and invite them to literally put their hands on it, I have no doubt they will not only be impressed, but empowered as well.  They’re not going to ask silly questions like, “why would you put one of these in a library”, because they intuitively know why.

By the way, you clean it with a mild dish-soap solution.

Details!

We’ve purchased the SDK (software development kit) as well.  When the dust settles from our move, we will certainly begin exploring some of the myriad possibilities.  I can already think of a number of ways to build interesting applications on top of Locum and Insurge.  We were all musing this morning about how cool it would be if we tagged certain picture books so that when they were placed on the Surface, a video-recording of a story-time with that book would pop up.  As far as I can tell, the Surface SDK takes advantage of Silverlight, so it should be fairly simple to quickly develop attractive and fun applications.

There are challenges.  I had always assumed that interaction between the Surface and physical objects was RFID-based.  That would have been perfect.  Instead, the Surface uses proprietary tags that look to be something akin to semacode in ultra-violet ink.  We’ll look in to getting some, but I doubt we’ll be getting B&T to process our books with them any time soon!

We would like to eventually put a Surface in our Teen Room and then Reference.  I’ve liked the whole Surface concept from the onset.  I think that anytime technology and physical space can be mashed up in a natural, intuitive way, a whole new realm of posibility opens up.  A platform like the Surface extends our horizon of influence.  It’s also freaking cool.  We’ll keep you posted!


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