Microsoft's newest line of computers does not require a mouse or a keyboard, just your fingers. Chairman Bill Gates calls the software company's newest invention Microsoft Surface.
"And when I put my fingers on it, there's a camera that recognizes where I'm touching. In fact, I can touch it different places, from any side of the table. And so it's actually a windows personal computer, but with this new surface capability.
The table-top computers are not only touch-sensitive, they can also recognize devices equipped with wireless or Bluetooth capabilities. Product Director Jeffrey Gattis says it also reads credit cards.
"I'm in a Sheraton Hotel, I can take my room key or my Sheraton-preferred card, just throw it down on the surface. It instantly knows who I am. It sees that I have 5,500 points in my account."
It also lets consumers buy music. Place a Zune player (portable music player) on the surface and you can use your fingers to upload music. Gattis says it is all done without wires.
"I just take it and drag it right across to my Zune. Notice that my points are being deducted from my Starwood-preferred guest card. "
And digital photos are literally a snap. Gates says the computer recognizes Wi-Fi-equipped cameras and downloads the pictures instantly.
"Any photo I've taken and I want to add to this collection, it can actually see that there's a camera there and it'll use the wireless connection to actually get the photos and bring those down onto the surface."
Microsoft has been investing heavily in developing natural interfaces that can be used for practical applications, such as ordering food or drinks. Microsoft Surface Computing General Manager Pete Thompson believes the new technology will make computing easy for anyone, including technophobes.
"One of the things that I'm personally very excited about with surface computers is the fact that it unlocks the power for people that have been intimidated before with computing products. Now this is just "drop-dead" simple. You don't have to know computing to be able to use this product and that is extremely exciting."
Microsoft Surface is expected to launch in November. But at a cost of between five to ten-thousand dollars per unit, it will be available only to commercial outlets, at least for the time being. Mr Gates said:
"We used to say a computer on every desktop and now I would say that every desktop will be a computer."