Microsoft Surface Computing: Implications for the healthcare industry

 Surfac Computing 

Yesterday, Microsoft officially launched the first commercial product from a group and technology known as Microsoft surface computing. The product is called Milan; a coffee-table sized PC that takes touch screen technology to entirely new levels and gives users a highly interactive experience with all things digital. For now, you'll be seeing the technology in business environments such as hotels, casinos, and retail establishments. You can read more about that here:

I first told you about surface computing last July when I met with colleagues at Microsoft Research to produce a video segment for my House Calls for Healthcare Professionals series. In that video, Dr. Eric Horvitz and surface computing guru, Andy Wilson, and I talked about the technology and possible implications for the healthcare industry. At the time Andy's work was going under the code name Play Anywhere. My head was literally spinning with ideas on how this new user interface could be used in radiology, physical therapy, anatomical pathology, and other disciplines. It also occurred to me that this new way to interact with a computer, manipulate screen images, and navigate through data could be immensely important to clinical work-flows demanding a more hands-free, no-touch solution such as might be desirable during surgery or certain medical procedures.

If you are a developer of solutions for the healthcare industry, or just an enthusiast of forward-looking technologies, you may want to give my video another look. You may also want to view another video that was shot during an “In the Labs” keynote panel at the Gartner ITXpo at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. In the video, broadcast by CNET, Dr. Eric Horvitz also ponders possible medical uses for surface computing.

Finally, if you take a look at another video I recently did with UCSF physician and CMIO, Dr. Michael Blum, and Motion Computing VP, Joel French, you'll catch us talking about the touch screen features found on Motion Computing's newest Tablet PCs running Windows Vista. Put two and two together, and I think you'll begin to see where all this is going.

I would like to extend my congratulations to Andy Wilson and his fellow researchers at Microsoft Research, as well as to my colleagues in our surface computing group. Way to go! I can't wait to see how some of our partners in the healthcare ISV community will take advantage of surface computing in tomorrow's clinical applications.

Bill Crounse, MD Worldwide Health Director Microsoft Corporation