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Surface 2.0 appears in Sydney: photos

One of the first installations of Microsoft's Surface 2.0 has popped up at Mary MacKillop Place Museum, combining the age-old story of a saint with modern technology. ZDNet Australia took a look at how the mid-19th century meets the 21st century.
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By Michael Lee, Journalist on
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(Credit: Michael Lee/ZDNet Australia)

Museum research consultant Margot Jolly runs through some of the features of the surface.

The installation itself is based around a Samsung SUR40 unit, which only began to ship from the manufacturer in mid-January this year. Object Consulting, one of the first Australian developers of a public-facing surface application, worked with the museum and with design company Red & Robin to install the surface at the museum's new gallery in North Sydney.

The cost of hardware alone is about $12,000, and the cost of associated software, while being dependent on the number of devices deployed, begins at $25,000.

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According to Object Consulting, one of the key differences from Surface 1.0 is Microsoft's newer PixelSense technology. It uses near-infrared sensors embedded in the individual pixels in the screen to "see" what is above the screen. From this, it can identify objects like hands, and, depending on the object's orientation, identify where a user might be standing to correctly display objects when they are opened.

It also allows the user to realistically use objects for input, such as brushes, as PixelSense allows Surface 2.0 to "see" how objects interact with the screen, rather than "feel" it through a capacitive or resistive film.

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(Credit: Michael Lee/ZDNet Australia)

The museum has developed specialised envelopes that allow interaction with Surface 2.0.

When placed on the surface, the computer behind the Surface 2.0 will choose a specific letter written to or from Mary MacKillop to open and display.

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The front of one of the envelopes.

Particular care was taken by the designers to ensure that even the postmarks appeared as authentic to the time period as possible.

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The back of one of the envelopes.

The code on the back helps the surface identify which letter it should open.

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(Credit: Michael Lee/ZDNet Australia)

The application running on the surface also allows users to interact with their smartphones by using Microsoft Tags, like QR codes, to link the two devices.

Users scan a tag with their smartphones, which then directs them to a website where they can find out more information.

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(Credit: Michael Lee/ZDNet Australia)

The approach to tagging has also been extended across the museum, with tags displayed alongside most exhibits.

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