The Surface team gets visitors, with toys! (the D&D kind)

There was a lot of excitement last month over in Surface-land. We had visitors from Carnegie Mellon University bringing over their Dungeons & Dragons application. The Microsoft Surface team works tirelessly to bring great features to this innovative platform, and we love to see what our customers and partners create. This isn’t a product from Wizards of the Coast. The students are going into their second semester creating the SurfaceScapes proof-of-concept * as part of their graduate program in the Entertainment Technology Center.

Here’s Larry Larsen over at Channel 10 interviewing the students while they were here.

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We’ve covered D&D on Surface a few times before on the blog. What makes it unique this time was it’s the first chance we here at Microsoft Surface had a chance to see it in person. We’ve been watching internet video just like you. It’s cool on video, but it’s even more amazing face-to-face. We had 10 people on our couch comfortably around Surface and it was really immersive.

If our product is only sold to businesses, why is this relevant to Surface? The SurfaceScapes demo really gets at the heart of the killer application of Microsoft Surface. Together. Surface is best applied to environments where people gather. The innovation in Surface let’s us be uniquely positioned to enable everyone to join in a rich experience using their hands and everyday objects. At the same time, Surface stays low profile so that you can socialize, without it getting in the way of having a great time.

Together and Surface is also very relevant when consulting face-to-face in buying a home, a car or making a financial investment. Being able to spread out information and interact with it in front of you is much easier than crowding around the salesperson’s PC or mobile device. It’s all about the right tool for the right job and it’s about making the complex simple.

Together is important public spaces like bars, where you come together with your friends. As Humberto Martinez at Seattle PI said of Surface when he visited the new Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle, “ had music performance photos, videos, games and a touchscreen piano. I could easily see people drinking beers or cocktails while sitting near this island playing a fun matching game similar to what you already see in bars now. The difference being that this is a big, beautiful multi-touch screen, so you don't have to crowd around.”

What has the reaction been to Dungeons & Dragons on Surface? The SurfaceScapes team was overwhelmed by how passionate people have been about their creation. Overall, the feedback has been positive. For me, it was really amazing to see both novice D&D players and experienced ones sitting down and having a great time with it. After all, that’s what tabletop games are all about. Surface fits right in there.

You’ll have your chance to see it too. The demo will be PAX East in a couple weeks. Until then, here are some more stories that came out when the CMU team was in Redmond..

- Eric (follow Surface on Twitter and Facebook)

* SurfaceScapes proof-of-concept, by Carnegie Mellon University; Wizards of the Coast, Dungeons & Dragons, and D&D are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast LLC. Wizards of the Coast’s trademarks and logos are used with permission. © 2010 Wizards of the Coast LLC

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