Email Interview with Smart Surface Sdn. Bhd.

This an email interview with Mr. Ammar from Smart Surface Sdn. Bhd.

Smart Surface is a company focuses on providing multi-touch technology.

We hear from Mr. Ammar about the company's origins and visions and he shared with us about the future of multi-touch for both business and technical.

Multi-touch technology is still very new. Windows 7 which provides support for multi-touch is seen as the potential catalyst to bring such technology out of the 'wow' factor.

The followings are questions and answers.

1. Tell us a little about Smart Surface Sdn. Bhd. (who is the founder, key persons and what are the objectives) ?

The company’s multitouch solutions was initially envisaged by the two co-founders, Faysal Abdulaziz (from Bangladesh, Malaysia resident) and Homam Alghorani (from Syria, Malaysia resident), during their study at APIIT and as part of their interest in multitouch technology, ubiquitous technology and related natural computer interfaces.

At the beginning of the year 2009, a Syrian entrepreneur living in Japan came to know about their research through the personal blog of Homam. He then offered the two aforementioned developers to co-form a company and fund their research. After several blog entries, emails, YouTube posts, Facebook investigation, as well as a few telephone calls back and forth, the three co-founders hammered out their vision and its details over several planning sessions in Kuala Lumpur and established Smart Surface Sdn Bhd.

Of course our company and all its products are Malaysian and bear proudly the label “made in Malaysia” since the first prototype launching on May 15th 2009.

The objective and vision of Smart Surface is nothing short of ubiquitous computing. We see computers integrated to our desktop, on our walls, and on every surface imaginable. As our communication needs change, computers need to evolve to meet that change. With our multitouch products, SmartSurface, we are seeking to reformulate the very concept of computing itself. Smart Surface Sdn Bhd has the potential of becoming a first Malaysian company (and even a first non-American/European company) with a dominant presence and an established brand name that will be associated with the field of multitouch and surface computers all around the world.

2. Smart Surface multi-touch technology, can you highlight to us what other products and services you are providing ?

Smart Surface Sdn Bhd is specialized solely in multitouch solutions, and surface computers that are the main media to realize multitouch. We research, design and build surface computing units of different forms (tables and horizontal surfaces, and vertical walls) with multiple multitouch and gesture recognition technologies (rear-projection, LCD, IR, Laser) (see answer to Q4).

We also develop software and applications for these multitouch surface computing units.

3. Multi-touch is relatively new in Malaysia, tell us a bit more on the market scenario?

Multitouch and surface computer technology is still in its infancy but is expected to penetrate the market and occupy an increasing percentage of the touch screen technology pie. Multitouch technology will make a big leap ahead in the coming two-to-three years with the launch of Windows-7 which supports multitouch screens.

In order to increase market interest in multitouch technology, we intend to outsource the marketing, sales and lease business through distributing & reselling partnerships with partners who are strong in a certain field or industry. These partners have already their own customers and market penetration and they are best qualified at introducing this technology to the market.

Furthermore, we consider that lease and rent provide enormous marketing possibilities especially until surface computing and multitouch technology establishes itself as a solid product in the consumer mind. Most businesses would prefer at this stage to rent and see what this novel product can benefit their businesses before they take the step further of a buy decision.

4. Can you give us a hint on the pricing and the brand of your product range? Otherwise, tell us about your target customers.

At the moment we are concentrating on the following products:
  1. Customized size vertical wall surface computers using rear-projection display technology; SmartSurface Wall.
  2. Customized size horizontal tabletop surface computers using LCD display technology; SmartSurface Table.

Since the size, shape and computing capacity are customized depending on the need of the customer, then the cost is different and we can not quote a simple price.

However, to give an idea, a 40” multitouch tabletop computer would cost around MYR 30,000 normally. Have in mind that some available products in the international market (such as Microsoft Surface) are selling for more than double that price for a unit with the same size and specs.

Regarding the target customers, and due to the size and cost of the units, multitouch and surface computing is still beyond the reach of individual consumers unfortunately. We mainly target industries, commercial entities, and large institutions. At this early stage, our main customers are advertisement & exhibition businesses, smart offices equipments providers, and educational institutions.

5. What technology platform is Smart Surface multi-touch technology (Windows, Linux or etc) ?

The platform could be either Windows or Linux depending on the request of the client. However, the core application and software are all developed using JAVA, Action Script AS3, Flex (Adobe) programming platforms, and Python and C++ programming languages.

6. Do you believe in the concept of killer applications, if so, give us some of your ideas?

We do believe that multitouch has yet to find a “killer application” beyond the initial “wow” factor that is attracting people to it at present.

The technology certainly works. However, we are still researching for applications which demonstrate how the technology might be used in a constructive (ie business etc) way beyond exhibition and events. That includes trying to identify areas where the multitouch technology would defeat conventional input devices. And by defeating, we do not mean just as an equivalent replacement, but having a clear advantage. At present, even with all the application we and other multitouch specialists are developing, we have to admit that there is no real full exploitation of the power of multi-touch.

7. Can you point us to uploaded videos on YouTube or etc ?

Please refer to the following links:

For more videos.


Brandon Teoh said…
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