Business Hardware

Microsoft Provides a Peek at Its New Sphere Computer

Microsoft Corp. showed off its new Sphere computer last week.

The machine, which was featured at the vendor's Research Faculty Summit in Redmond, Wash., is still a research prototype. It uses a touch-screen orb instead of a traditional flat-screen monitor.

The system combines touch capabilities with a projector and an infrared camera, noted Hrvoje Benko, a Microsoft Research human-computer interaction specialist, in a blog post.

Microsoft engineers have so far developed a picture and video browser, as well as three applications for the system.

"It's important in that someone is spending time and money to look at different ways to design and use computers," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. "You never know where [it] might lead."

Microsoft also showed attendees a deployment of 2,000 internally built temperature and humidity sensors that it's using to control energy consumption at its facilities.

Jie Liu, a Microsoft researcher, would not say whether Microsoft plans to commercialize the technology, though he noted that "there is lots of interest."

Nancy Gohring of the IDG News Service contributed to this story.

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