On July 29 at its Faculty Research Summit, Microsoft is expected to allow attendees some hands-on time with the Microsoft Sphere.
The Sphere comes from the same Microsoft Researchers that developed the Surface, a k a "PlayTable." The Surface is currently a coffee-table-sized product available for key commercial markets only. Microsoft officials have said the company is looking to create consumer-sized and -priced versions of the Surface at some point in the future.
Microsoft has provided some of its employees, customers, partners and members of the media with an early peek at the Sphere. (I was not among them.) But thanks to one of Microsoft's partners, here's a little more information on what is behind the globe-like, multi-touch device.
"The sphere itself is made by Global Imagination," CEO Mike Foody told me via e-mail. "We've been collaborating with Microsoft R&D for them to add the multi-touch capability. And yes, with the Magic Planet you can 'zoom in' using Microsoft Virtual Earth (and Nasa World Wind).
"The Magic Planet has a varety of tools, including one that enables end-users to build media mashups - add links around the globe, and when they're clicked, you can show photos; play silde shows, movies and YouTube videos; etc."
The Magic Planet, as described on Global Imagination's Web site, is a spherical, digital-video globe "We also supply software, content and services that enable you to present global information and promotional media in the most compelling and interactive way possible," according to the site.
At least for now, the Global Imagination's site makes no mention of Microsoft as a partner or customer for its technology. Maybe that will change as of tomorrow.