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The Neue Digital / Razorfish car configurator – Click above to watch video

Microsoft Surface is, at its most basic, a table-sized touchscreen computer. You can play with them at rather select locations, but we haven't yet begun to see what the thing can do because there aren't enough people investing in applications for it. But for a glimpse of a potential automotive use, Neue Digitale / Razorfish (ND/R) created a configurator that turns accessorizing into building a car in your bare hands.

One of the coolest things about ND/R's take on customizing is that Surface allows for a huge car because the screen is, literally, a table. The haptic controls let you move the car – in this case, an Audi – with a finger or two in any direction, and zooming and jumping in and out of the vehicle take just a few finger touches. The neatest thing of all is the actual physical widget that, when placed on the screen, pulls up a topical menu on the screen that can be flipped through by rotating the widget. And get this: two people can use it at the same time.

It's not quite as revelatory as the configurator that Aston introduced last year for the DBS, only because it's not yet real. But it probably will be soon enough. Follow the jump to have a look at the video.

[Source: Emerging Experiences via German Car Blog]

Audi Car Configurator on Surface @ IAA 2009 from Neue Digitale / Razorfish on Vimeo.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      $15000? You guys are forgetting the IT staff involved in updates, maintenance and support. I work for a company that has small displays such as this throughout the country and they had to get support teams at each location because these things will eventually error or crash.

      As cool as the tech is, it's expensive and using windows, it's not stable.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Your $600 laptop has a 30-inch display, unlimited multitouch input functionality and infrared cameras to detect and interact with objects around it? Damn. All I got for $600 was a quad-core AMD processor, 4Gb of RAM and the Basic version of Vista Home. I need to start shopping at your electronics retailer.

      In all seriousness, though, this is something that would probably pay for itself in the first day on a dealer's show room. 90% of the people who purchase luxury cars have no clue what they're buying and could be easily swayed by a slick gimick like this. Lexus buyers are like Sony buyers - it's better because that's what everyone's always told them. BMW buyers owned one before, actually tear the car up a bit during the test drive, or threaten the dealer that they'll go over to Audi if they don't give them a deal. Audi buyers have taste. Mercedes buyers have the opposite of Audi buyers. Any of these buyers would get a kick out of fiddling with Surface and may well buy a car because of it. Bravo to Microsoft for finding a reason for this thing to exist beyond ordering drinks at The Palms.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Neat concept. Would not work in reality.

      Here is what would happen: Introduced in the showroom: Car shoppers talks to dealer about price no one paying attention to 6 year old kid of car shopper. Kid throws those click wheel things around and smashes them. This would happen within hours of the device being installed in the showroom.

      Needs refinement, and the click wheel things of differing shapes for differing purposes need to go. They would confuse customers who would not instinctively know which one to grab to pull up the menu they want, and they would get lost or broken the very first day. Replace with a chart of gestures beside the surface table instructing users which gestures to use to bring up various menus.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Forget the future, I'd like it if more manufacturer websites copied Porsche's Shockwave configurator (seriously, try it, it's awesome) that has been around for years. The technology to create 3D configurators in a browser exists now (Silverlight); the issue is manufacturers cutting costs with their websites.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That's amazing. With only a $15,000 Surface and a doodad I have to keep around, but not on the table, I can do what normally takes a $600 laptop PC to pull off!

      Car configuration will never be the same for me again.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If there is really a market for these things, I can see them custom-built for a lot cheaper. The hardware part is basically a rear projection screen, a HD camcorder, and a computer.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well its just one more fun thing people with the Surface can do. I am 100% certain that it would be more enjoyable to configure a car on this thing then your net top pos with a 13 inch screen and integrated graphics. Also, this is most likely for dealers.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What kind of Cars Asad at Dolphin Motors Selling?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why does every new product by microsoft always look like.. a prototype? how come this cutting edge thing even lags?
      and however cool this surface may be, when I visit a showroom I want to touch the real thing, not the same screen that burns my eyes out all day long, because thats what it is after all.
      so please audi, don't replace cars in your showrooms by PCs..
        • 5 Years Ago
        They're not gonna replace all the showroom cars with these. The idea is that they may have a silver one with a beige interior on the lot, and you love the car, but what you'd like to see is black on black, and now you can do it with more than a paint chip and a leather swatch.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Audi obviously stayed in Seattle to partner with Microsoft after Forza 3
      • 5 Years Ago
      Neat but horrible lag in 2009? Seriously?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, that's what I was thinking. But this is real time rendering - virtually no buffering - so a bit of lag is likely.

        But for an expensive item like the Surface? Not something I'd invest on.
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