I’ve been meaning to blog about Microsoft’s Surface technology for a while now, but a video from TechCrunch this morning (below) has reminded me how utterly cool this is. The concept was conceived in 2001 and the first prototype was in 2003, so it’s nothing new, but we have yet to see any sort of large-scale rollout.
The implications for real estate technology are huge. Imagine one of these units in your office. Your clients and prospects would no doubt be wowed by the seamless integration of all the aspects of your business, and the novel way it was presented to them. Watch the videos below. The first is a YouTube video from a year or so ago which shows some of the neat features, and the second is the TechCrunch video [it’s kind of loud!] from this week’s CES show, going on in Las Vegas, which helps explain how it works and clarify some of the differences between this technology and other multi-touch interfaces. More commentary after the videos.
One of the most exciting features of this technology is how it differs from other touch-screen interfaces. There are no embedded capacitors in the surface which means that unlike most touch-screen displays, you don’t have to baby it. The surface is hard plastic, so things can be dropped on it, spilled on it, and generally moved about without fear of damaging the sensitivity of the interface. This is important in our real estate world. We all know how office equipment can get used and abused. One would assume that a badly scratched surface would inhibit touch sensitivity, but some special polish or tabletop replacement would be a relatively inexpensive repair, since it is just a plastic surface.
Imagine meeting some buyers at your office. You fire up the Surface, drag about the pictures of the listings they’re interested in, and then let the system plan out a driving route, text-message the listing agents to make the appointments, and then transfer all the information to your mobile phone or PDA to guide you there along the way! While you drive, the text message confirmations come to your phone/PDA, turning the listing map points from yellow to green or red, indicating that the showings are confirmed or denied.
The clients are ready to offer. Back at the office, the purchase contracts are laid out on the Surface computer. All information is pulled from WebForms, as you are already familiar with. The clients read over the contract, sign using any object (a pen, pencil, their finger, etc), and you drag the contract across the table to the e-mail or fax icon. Away it goes to the other agent. Now you can flick it across to the printer icon to get the clients a hard copy.
These are but two exciting possibilities for this technology in the real estate world. I’m sure you could think of many more. As we move away from the traditional mouse/keyboard interfaces and into the ever-increasing world of multi-touch computing, expect more and more innovation and technology to make your life and work easier, and admittedly, more fun.