The NSW Government has begun actively considering uses for Microsoft's Surface technology, following a visit by Minister for Commerce Jodi McKay to the company's North Ryde headquarters last week.
According to the Minister, the NSW Government is looking for innovative ways to store, share and analyse government information.
"Information and communications technology is now the backbone of Government service delivery, with everything from licence renewals, medical imagery and connected classrooms available online," Minister McKay said, giving a possible hint as to where the technology may eventually be deployed.
Microsoft Surface uses a combination of software and hardware to present information on a horizontal surface that can be manipulated through use of gestures. The technology was first announced in May 2007, and has been promoted as being useful for restaurants, entertainment venues and in retail stores.
One of the first customers to sign on was the US telecommunications company AT&T which is using it in some retail outlets in North America.
The demonstration was also attended by the director general of the NSW Department of Services, Technology and Administration, Graeme Head.
No timeframe has been given however before NSW taxpayers might see the technology surface in their interactions with government agencies, and neither the Minister nor director general was prepared to comment on how the technology might be used.
"I have instructed senior Government officials to visit Microsoft to receive a similar demonstration and to begin exploring potential applications of this and other exciting technologies that could make government data and information more accessible to the people of NSW," Minister McKay said.
The technology is also being used by government agencies elsewhere in the world, including the United States Library of Congress, and is also being adopted in education and law enforcement.