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The future of touch

Here's a question for you. Which big tech company makes the most advanced multi-touch touchscreen products? Apple, right? Wrong. Microsoft.

While Apple has cleaned up with regular consumers with its string of touchscreen iDevices, Microsoft has quietly come to dominate the touch-screen top-end with a technology called Surface. Surface works best in large screens for commercial uses - if you've ever used a big touch-screen table at a museum, for example, there's a good chance it runs on Surface.

Well, Microsoft just showed off the new version of Surface and we'll be darned if it's not very impressive indeed. While most touchscreen devices can recognise five or ten fingers at once - that's the 'multi' in 'multi-touch' - in Surface 2.0, every single pixel has its own individual sensor. The Surface screen can track the whole of a human hand, the fingers of many users at once, or - and this could be a very big deal - scan a perfect copy of an image or piece of printed text. Imagine if you could rest a letter on the screen of your iPad to scan it - that's the likely future potential of this tech.

Don't hold your breath for that, though - Microsoft says that for the time being, Surface 2.0 will be only for large screens (24in or above), and it costs several thousand dollars. So the SurfacePad might not be with us for a few years. This could be what your future coffee table looks like, though...

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