iDesk--Apple's Advanced Solution to Surface Computing

Discussion in 'iMac' started by GodBless, Jun 3, 2007.

  1. GodBless macrumors 65816

    GodBless

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    #1
    It is good to see that Microsoft finally released something that is innovative and useful for today's world. The only other thing that Microsoft has going for it right now is Microsoft Office. Out of Zune, Vista, the new Office and now Surface--we have an obvious winner--that is until Apple releases the iDesk. ;)

    I bet Apple will come up with an even better surface computer and I am certain that Apple will come up with a better OS for surface computing. Microsoft's surface computing OS looks nice but is not very thoughtfully designed in certain areas--for example the photos (that come from a camera when it is set on the screen) pop out in a scattered form. This is obviously not a good choice. A lot of loose ends of poor design need to be tied up at Microsoft with their surface computer but I say we wait for Apple to give us the best solution.

    Could Apple possibly reveal to us a surface computer at WWDC in 7 days and 11 hours and 21 minutes (+/- 1 minute) at WWDC?
     
  2. pknz macrumors 68020

    pknz

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2005
    Location:
    NZ
    #2
    Got any concepts for this iDesk that you would like to share?
     
  3. zephead macrumors 68000

    zephead

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2006
    Location:
    in your pants
    #3
    As always, it's really just another idea that Microsoft bought off of somebody, in this case, Jeff Han. It's a really cool idea though, mind-boggling even.
     
  4. iToaster macrumors 68000

    iToaster

    Joined:
    May 3, 2007
    Location:
    In front of my MacBook Pro
  5. GodBless thread starter macrumors 65816

    GodBless

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    #5
    Well in case you haven't seen it--here are a couple of pictures of a smaller design for a multi-touch computer that I made a digital model of (and here is the final of the three threads where MacRumors forum participants discussed my design with me):

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Here is how the screen can tilt:
    [​IMG]

    It's not really a desk I know but I am sure we will see smaller forms for multi-touch computer systems such as the one that I modeled and posted pictures of.

    As for a personal design for an "iDesk" I'd say that it should have a place for a keyboard, an optional surface tilt (so that the user's neck doesn't get tired) and a place to put cameras, cell phones and other devices on the computer while the main screen is tilted. Additionally bookshelves that can sense books and other cool innovative computer/desk features such as an electric tilt (allowing the screen to be tilted with a motor--perhaps after touching the screen with a specific gesture that tells it to tilt the screen) and RFID sensing abilities.

    I might make a digital model of an iDesk in the future but I doubt it--I probably need quite a bit more experience in SolidWorks (a mechanical engineering Windows program used for digital modeling) first before I do that--otherwise I would spend hours and hours modeling it when other people who have had more experience with SolidWorks could just model it exactly the way that I tell them to at a faster pace than I could model it.
     
  6. morphineseason macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    #6
    Microsoft tends to think "big"...literally. For example, Bill Gates and his Surface tables/projection screen-infested future...and on the opposite end is Steve with the iPhone/iPod.

    If Apple does announce a multi-touch solution (aside from the iPhone of course), I would say it's going to come in the form of something much smaller than an entire table. Now that I think about it...Apple is missing a "tablet"...perhaps they could make an impressive debut in this market with multi-touch technology? It would certainly make Microsoft look foolish for only offering Surface for $5,000-$10,000 and mainly only to businesses.

    edit: GodBless, I've seen your concepts before...can't say I'm a big fan, but it's kind of the idea of my post. I would picture it more like the design of the conventional tablet notebooks that companies like HP are putting out (the swivel screen comes to mind)...except of course with the signature Apple design that will ultimately look much "prettier".
     
  7. TheAnswer macrumors 68030

    TheAnswer

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2002
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    #7
    Most of the multitouch threads seem to have a couple similarities, which I'll summarize:

    1) Large scale multi-touch surfaces will create ergonomic and repetitive stress injury problems such as neck strain and wrist, elbow, shoulder problems.

    2) Even fields where the use of multi-touch would seem to fit like a glove (such as graphic design) face the obvious disconnect between the ease of use that multi-touch could provide and the lack of accuracy that a finger tip has over the current mouse-cursor system.

    Now that said...I think there is room for multi-touch in the interface, but I believe we will see trackpads with multi-touch capability and maybe even a mouse with a multi-touch surface before we see direct object manipulation via multi-touch using large surface areas such as the monitor.

    The problem with Surface is that it needs contact to sense and identify the devices...quite simply the need to place on object on a surface is as ridiculous as the need to plug it into a dock or connect it with a wire. Proximity communication between devices through bluetooth or other wireless methods is much more convenient. I detailed a metaphor of "grab", "catch" and "throw" for data exchange between devices in one of the Surface threads that I think would be much more elegant than the Surface metaphor. Briefly...already paired devices would be able to "grab" or "throw" files freely to each other, while unpaired devices could ask to "grab" and "throw". Obviously an accepted "throw" would be a "catch", while a "grab" would be the ability to browse the device and download stuff selectively.
     
  8. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2006
    Location:
    Somewhere
    #8
    That would be great, but then I would end up spending all of the money that I make this summer on buying one.
     
  9. GodBless thread starter macrumors 65816

    GodBless

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    #9
    Yes--it's true that my design could use some visual refinements including higher resolution models.

    Also what I think is ironic is that this image of Microsoft's surface computer (from Microsoft's surface website) looks like today's current iMac (I also included an image of an iMac where you can clearly see the transparent edges (click on the image of the iMac for a more detailed image--the iMac is running Vista ironically)):

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    :D
     

    Attached Files:

  10. TheAnswer macrumors 68030

    TheAnswer

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2002
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    #10
    Naw....of Apple products it most closely resembles the old "sunflower" G4 iMac's screen. That said, it really looks more like an IKEA SLUGIS container and it's lid (although I don't mean to insult IKEA and there great products by making this association).
     

    Attached Files:

  11. GodBless thread starter macrumors 65816

    GodBless

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    #11
    It's not as bad as you think considering that the tables and desks will probably be able to tilt up--plus people still use surfaces for pen and paper work and I don't hear many complaints of neck and arm strain.

    It is more accurate than you think--Apple made touch screen technologies extremely accurate so that users won't hit the wrong buttons on the iPhone's very small multi-touch screen.

    I have a multi-touch trackpad on my iBook G4--Apple is ahead of you on this one or else you are behind in technology.

    Microsoft's "Surface" will be in retail stores as early as this fall (i.e. fall 2007).

    The surface computer can communicate wirelessly without contact but can also do awesome and amazing new things with contact. Contact doesn't take away old technology--it allows the old technologies and also gives us amazing new possibilities.
     
  12. GodBless thread starter macrumors 65816

    GodBless

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    #12
    Maybe you'll change your mind after seeing my post (post #9 in this thread) again that I modified to include more detail. ;)
     
  13. iMeowbot macrumors G3

    iMeowbot

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    #13
    The first iteration of the Microsoft device actually was an ikea table :)
    as .doc, goooooogle html conversion
     
  14. TheAnswer macrumors 68030

    TheAnswer

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2002
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    #14
    Most paper work is limited to fairly small amounts of writing with times to pause...it doesn't parallel the experience that most of us have using our computers to produce things. The tilt will help the neck, but would cause more shoulder and arm strain.

    Hitting a button is different from aligning objects or drawing/painting using a crosshair or brush cursor. Try to use one of your fingers to "select" a tool or a smiley from the post toolbars. It works for great for buttons the size of a finger, anything smaller or that needs precision is were it fails (because you can't select something much smaller than your finger and you can't see though your finger to manipulate with precision).

    Two-finger scroll doesn't cover the full range of "gestures" that multi-touch can perform does it? I'd love Apple to offer multitouch surfaces...I just don't see them as a monitor replacement (for example a 10-key or keyboard sized surface that could be used as a mixing board, a color palette, etc, etc. would work...I just don't see it replacing the cursor metaphor on the monitor).

    It will be in retail stores, such as restaurants and T-Mobile stores, but it's not being offered by them as a consumer level product at this time.

    From the video demos I've seen, contact is required (especially to read items with the "domino" identifier tags). If not, that's great...Surface still has all the drawbacks you stated in your first post.

    Nope...still looks more like a SLUGIS covered by the screen of the G4 iMac than the current ones to me:
     

    Attached Files:

  15. GodBless thread starter macrumors 65816

    GodBless

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    #15
    Yep--Microsoft claims this fact is true on their Surface web page section too.

    And did Microsoft require you to labor non-stop with their screen? No. Plus laptop keyboards (such as my iBook's keyboard) are often flat and people (myself included) have no trouble using them at all.

    Scribes for years and years have worked on long and time sensitive projects with flat surfaces with success in the past--don't tell me that surface computing will change the future of flat surfaces so that they will be unusable after working on them for hours and hours.

    So how is this worse than doing paper work again? Now you get to select an angle--an added bonus if you ask me!

    That's why the mouse will still exist and will be used as a standard computer tool as an input device--the keyboard will also be used and obviously the multi-touch screen additionally. A standard desk or table will come with a mouse and a keyboard--the on screen keyboards have a long way to go before they can ever eliminate the need for a standard keyboard.

    Touch screen interfaces won't have small buttons--resolution independent user interfaces has already solved this problem--buttons and windows will be scaled for use in a multi-touch screen environment.

    Why overdevelop a horse and buggy when it will never be as good as an automobile anyway--it's time to move on the track pad will never be able to efficiently do what a multi-touch screen can do.

    It's time to move on--let's not be old fashioned it's time to use a flashlight instead of a candle. Imagine things better--don't imagine things in the context of the way that they are today--that's too limiting and holds us down when we're ready to fly.

    "Local retail stores" is what Popular Mechanics stated on a video (linked here). Plus it specifically says on Microsoft's Surface web area that they "won't hit the market until winter 2007" implying that they will be released this winter (see the image below):

    Picture 3.png

    (To access the location of this image click on the "Find It" link at the bottom of the http://www.microsoft.com/surface web page.)

    It isn't true that everything requires touch to be used (phones and PDA will be optionally the same as they are today) but yes as you mentioned the "domino" tags do need to touch the screen (or they probably at least need to be near the surface of the screen so that the computer cameras can see what the domino pattern is on the tags) but it is a new technology that is optional and hasn't been possible before. Aren't you happy for something with new possibilities that can have some really good practical uses? For example you could take your favorite chess set pieces and print out domino tags (in the form of sticky labels) for each piece--all of the pawns would probably have the same pattern and the king would have a different pattern and the queen would have a different pattern too.

    That's like saying the car has its drawbacks so let's keep going with the horse and buggy. I hope you think more deeply about this amazing new technology that is emerging.

    Well you are entitled to your own view but I do hope that you will be more aware of the reality of the design today instead of the conceptual history of the design in the past.
     
  16. LeviG macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    Norfolk, UK
    #16
    so this was the massive design improvement


    [​IMG]


    why didnt that get posted in the other thread :rolleyes:
     
  17. GodBless thread starter macrumors 65816

    GodBless

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    #17
    Well I included it on post #38 of this thread and I have another design modification that I haven't posted previously here:

    1.3.jpg

    This is about as far as I've progressed on my iMac's design as of yet--I've moved on to other projects recently so I haven't done any updating on the design recently. I know that not too many people are fans of my iMac's design but I (along with a few others) certainly like it and that's what counts the most. :)

    As I like to say: "Don't do what popular--do what's right".
     
  18. TheAnswer macrumors 68030

    TheAnswer

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2002
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    #18
    No...because right now their experience doesn't cover serious applications, it's just messy photo moving/resizing, menu ordering, and finger painting. Not things people do for a living.

    But you're not as hunched over when looking at your laptop screen are you? The simple fact is that your spine and neck want to be upright in a straight line and your arms and hands would love to be on or near your lap. If you combine the monitor and the input device on a large scale, one of these is going to be out of alignment and will fatigue quickly or suffer repetitive stress injuries.

    So why add it on a large scale (directly on the monitor) if it's not adding anything but cost, unnecessary complexity and possible ergonomic problems?

    But you said the keyboard and mouse aren't going away...so either these buttons will look bigger than those using keyboards and mice will need, or you will have to perform a "gesture" to rescale them...which takes away from the usefulness of such technology. Hmmm....I can click a tool with the mouse or using multitouch I can adjust the screen to make the tool a size that I can touch, select it, and then adjust the screen to go back where I was...hmmm...much easier just to use the mouse or a keyboard command.

    Yeah...you're arguing will yourself there since I was replying to your quote:
    Listen, I'm hardly a Luddite when it comes to new technology...but how exactly is a multi-touch Surface wannabe or a multi-touch monitor better on a large scale? You outlined the problems will the Surface in your first post. The main "gestures" of multi-touch on the Surface device are dragging, rotating, scaling, and selecting. If a small multi-touch surface was added to the keyboard, or added as another device at comfortable hand level while the visual monitor remained at comfortable eye level...you'd have all the functionality (and possibly more) of the Surface plus you can keep the added precision that the using the cursor allows and you wouldn't have to worry about additional ergonomic problems.

    It will be in local retail stores as a display interface. In restaurants using the menu app, I believe T-Mobile stores will be using them, you'll see them in hotels, fancy bars and clubs. At $5,000-$10,000 a piece, they are not being marketed to the average or even above average computer owner.

    My point is that physical or proximal contact is actually a liability to the Surface. If a "grab", "throw" and "catch" is built into the interface...you'll be able to "grab" photos from all devices (automatically with paired and on permission from unpaired) in a given range. (Imagine holding an anniversary party where everyone has cameras, opening iPhoto...clicking the Grab tool, selecting "All from All Available" from the pull down menu...and downloading all the photos on cameras and cameraphones within range to your MacBook.)

    The problem I see is at the device level...devices need to be smart enough to turn on when communicated with but without sapping too much battery power. (For example, I want to be able to grab photos from my camera when it's still sitting downstairs in my camera bag...or if I take a picture, I'd love to be able to use my camera to "throw" it at my sleeping computer and have it wake up and catch it. This is the real area where the technology is lagging and needs to evolve.

    Now who's using the candle instead of the flashlight?...who needs a chess set when the computer has them built in?...this is actually where multi-touch would come in handy (and how you'll see Surface used in upscale bars and cafes)...the ability to play standard board games where you'll be able to manipulate the board in three dimensions. The main problem with Surface is that it hasn't evolved much since the demo (as the playanywhere project) that I saw last year on youtube, they've figured out how to put the cameras inside a box and cover it to make it an actual product...but other than that it hasn't evolved much.

    Multi-touch has applications...where we differ is the nature of these applications. As I stated above...I see a small-scale input devices being the logical next-step in the evolution of the technology. Multi-touch devices that can serve as mixing boards, color or brush palettes being applications that come to mind fastest. Not replacing the workspace on screen but amplifying it by enabling multiple inputs (instead of a graphic designer having to move to the color palette on the screen, they touch the color in their multi-touch palette with one finger without needing to move their cursor). On the other hand, some areas will retain the need for tactile feedback (The keyboard is one such area and I personally can't imagine trying to use a multi-touch jog-shuttle control...I'd need tactile feedback for that).
     
  19. Scannall macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2007
    #19
    I think that a multi-touch device to replace current keyboards would be easier, and more useful that having your whole screen multi-touch.

    Able to swap out tools for different apps on the fly etc, as well as being used as current keyboards are.
     
  20. psycoswimmer macrumors 65816

    psycoswimmer

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2006
    Location:
    USA
    #20
    Here we go again.

    I can't wait for this to be in stores, so I could just use it (the surface). I'm not sure if Apple is going to release one in 7 days though. :)
     
  21. TheAnswer macrumors 68030

    TheAnswer

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2002
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    #21
    I agree...in fact they could even make a multi-touch keyboard for many swappable tool sets (keyboard, color palette, tool palette, mixing board palette, etc, etc) and provide some tactile response overlays that the user adds only when he/she needs tactile feedback (a keyboard overlay for long spurts of typing or a jog-shuttle inset for video editing). The multi-touch surface itself would be completely customizable, so if you never use the 10-key...you could have a tool/color/type palette or jog-shuttle there all the time and you would have the ability to call up numerous presets depending on your workflow and current tasks.
     
  22. Scannall macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2007
    #22
    Exactly. It allows you to have all the touch-screen goodness without the ergonomics disaster that full screen touchscreen would be. Just trying to 'Think Different' is all. ;-)
     
  23. LeviG macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    Norfolk, UK
    #23
    Well I can personally see an "add on" device over a completely new tool too but I think it would be something seperate to the keyboard.

    Now take the upravlator from art lebedev and add in a bit of multitouch/design know how from apple and I think it would be a killer tool for the photographer or 2d/3d designer (especially if made available on the pc and the mac)

    picture of the upravlator
    [​IMG]
     
  24. TheAnswer macrumors 68030

    TheAnswer

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2002
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    #24
    I think the keyboard form factor is practically perfect ergonomically and in terms of size/practicality...the missing element is how to have a both completely customizable multi-touch surface and add in tactile response to functions such as a jog-shuttle control or a keyboard.

    I think we'll have the option of having multiple multi-touch input surfaces...since I think for the most part they will be independent of cursor control (which will stay with the stylus/mouse). That means, for example you could have keyboard and a multi-touch surface or you could have a multi-touch surface with a keyboard tactile response overlay only went you needed it. You could also do anyway with the 10-key section of the keyboard and add in a jog-shuttle tactile response overlay if you wanted...or use the bare multi-touch surface for HSB sliders/brush palette options/etc.
     
  25. Scannall macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2007
    #25

    I just can't see the point of adding another input device. It's just not the Apple way. From a desktop real estate perspective, and from an ergonomics perspective it really doesn't work well.

    The human body design is pretty well fixed. And desk manufacturers have a pretty good idea on how to work with it. Keeping your hands in a small work area works better than spreading out the work over a large area.


    I'm not sure that tactile feedback is completely required. I think that audible feedback would most likely suffice. People are really adaptable to things like that. Back when I first learned to type it was on a manual typewriter. Then teletype machines etc. I certainly don't need that kind of feedback these days.
     

Share This Page