Microsoft Reinvents the Conference-Room Whiteboard With the Surface Hub


Story by Refe Needleman

An XBox guy wants to make your meetings better.

Mike Angiulo, the corporate VP of XBox Hardware, is also in charge of a new Microsoft product, the Surface Hub. This device is a computer built in to a big flat-screen 4K TV, and it’s designed for one thing: conference room meetings.

The Surface Hub, which was unveiled at the Jan. 21, 2015, Windows 10 event — and overshadowed by the Microsoft HoloLens reveal there — will run Windows 10, but only for displaying images, letting people collaborate on them, and serving as a videoconferencing station.  It’s a one-box computer, but it serves just that one purpose: It’s a meeting computer.

The hardware and software package is unique and original. Two Surface Hub models are in development right now, an 84-inch diagonal one (which I had some time with) and a 55-inch version. Both are 4K capacitive touchscreen displays (like your smartphone). The technology to make a touchscreen display work at this size took some development, Angiulo says. In addition to tweaking the touch system to reject electrical interference (much harder at that size than on a 5-inch smartphone), designers made the glass on the display much thicker than on a normal flat-screen TV. That enables you to press down on it without it buckling or “pooling” (showing blobs when you press). It’s also coated with an antifriction material so your fingers don’t drag or skip when you’re using it.

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