The inside scoop on Microsoft Surface

On April 17, AT&T worked with Microsoft and my employer Avenue A | Razorfish to launch the first retail application of Microsoft Surface touch-and-recognition table technology at a limited number of AT&T wireless stores. Surface promises to improve upon the often-confusing process of buying a mobile phone in a retail store, and even make learning about mobile devices fun. Until its public launch, though, most consumers hadn’t even seen a Surface table. Few user experience designers had, either. So what was it like to create a user experience design for the launch? Superhype sat down with Rich Bowen of Avenue A | Razorfish to find out. Rich is a user experience lead dedicated to the AT&T account. He lives in Denver, and his work supports AT&T digital advertising and website design across the agency’s Atlanta, Austin, and Seattle offices. His job was to work with a team to design how consumers would interact with Surface tables in the stores. Here is his story.

Superhype: Rich, most consumers haven’t even seen a Surface table. Why are they important?

Rich Bowen: Surface can make the buying experience a lot more fun, especially for products that require high levels of consideration before purchase. With Surface, a salesperson does not need to explain how a mobile device works or whether AT&T can provide coverage to your area of the country. Instead, the consumer and salesperson can sit down at an interactive screen and see the information they need. For instance, using Surface, consumers can review features of a device by placing it on a table. Surface recognizes the device and displays a graphics-rich overview of features. Consumers can also use touch-and-hand movements to explore an interactive map that reveals how much coverage AT&T provides in different areas of the United States.

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AT&T launches a Surface-level consumer experience

microsoft_surface.jpg

I cannot say I know anyone who would characterize shopping for a mobile device as “fun and engaging.” AT&T, a client of my employer Avenue A | Razorfish, hopes to change things. At the CTIA Wireless Conference April 2, AT&T demonstrated how the company will use Microsoft Surface touch technology for consumers to explore mobile devices at AT&T retail stores. According to Microsoft, AT&T is the first company to employ Surface in a retail environment.

Here’s how the experience will work: consumers visiting AT&T retail stores will sit down at Surface tables and play with the touch-and-recognition technology to learn about mobile devices. For instance, consumers can review features of a device by placing it on a table. Surface recognizes the device and displays a graphics-rich overview of features.

Consumers may also use touch-and-hand movements to explore a map that reveals how much coverage AT&T provides in different areas of the United States.

The Surface tables will be piloted at a small number of AT&T stores in the United States (planned launch date: April 17) and later on at more AT&T stores.

Avenue A | Razorfish provided strategy, user experience, and technology to support AT&T and Microsoft. What’s interesting to me is the test-and-learn nature of the experience. I doubt anyone has mastered the art of designing an experience for consumers hunched over a table and touching it — Surface is just too new. No doubt the designers will learn lessons from the pilot and make adjustments . . . but the designers — and hopefully consumers — will have fun along the way. Meantime, check out this AT&T demonstration of Surface at CTIA.

AT&T launches a Surface-level consumer experience

microsoft_surface.jpg

I cannot say I know anyone who would characterize shopping for a mobile device as “fun and engaging.” AT&T, a client of my employer Avenue A | Razorfish, hopes to change things. At the CTIA Wireless Conference April 2, AT&T demonstrated how the company will use Microsoft Surface touch technology for consumers to explore mobile devices at AT&T retail stores. According to Microsoft, AT&T is the first company to employ Surface in a retail environment.

Here’s how the experience will work: consumers visiting AT&T retail stores will sit down at Surface tables and play with the touch-and-recognition technology to learn about mobile devices. For instance, consumers can review features of a device by placing it on a table. Surface recognizes the device and displays a graphics-rich overview of features.

Consumers may also use touch-and-hand movements to explore a map that reveals how much coverage AT&T provides in different areas of the United States.

The Surface tables will be piloted at a small number of AT&T stores in the United States (planned launch date: April 17) and later on at more AT&T stores.

Avenue A | Razorfish provided strategy, user experience, and technology to support AT&T and Microsoft. What’s interesting to me is the test-and-learn nature of the experience. I doubt anyone has mastered the art of designing an experience for consumers hunched over a table and touching it — Surface is just too new. No doubt the designers will learn lessons from the pilot and make adjustments . . . but the designers — and hopefully consumers — will have fun along the way. Meantime, check out this AT&T demonstration of Surface at CTIA.