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article imageMicrosoft's Surface Dial is a radical new take on PC peripherals

By James Walker     Oct 26, 2016 in Technology
Microsoft has introduced a new kind of PC input device at its 2016 Surface hardware event. Surface Dial is a wireless rotational peripheral with 3,600 precision points that places shortcut buttons, toolbars and radial menus at your fingertips.
Surface Dial is designed to complement Windows 10's existing creative tools. It offers a more intuitive way to navigate drawing canvasses while also providing access to a series of unique input experiences on compatible Surface hardware.
The device can be placed directly onto the display of the new Surface Studio. It then invokes digital tools specific to the open app. In a drawing app, it may provide options to change the colour or size of the brush tip. The artist can change their stroke using the Surface Dial, without lifting their pen or finger from the screen. The Dial can also overlay colour pickers and rulers directly onto the display, extending the app's interface.
Microsoft Surface Dial
Microsoft Surface Dial
Microsoft
Pressing and holding on the Surface Dial provides access to its tools and shortcuts. It can be customised, enabling you to place the options you use the most at your fingertips. Surface Dial supports a range of common tasks including scrolling through documents, rotating images and adjusting music volume. All these interactions are made possible by rotating the Dial.
The device communicates with its host PC over Bluetooth Low Energy. It is powered by 2 "AAA" traditional alkaline batteries which Microsoft says should endure 12 months of typical usage on each charge. The Dial is built from CNC aluminium. Microsoft has built a custom-designed bearing mechanism that ensures it always rotates smoothly.
Microsoft Surface Dial
Microsoft Surface Dial
Microsoft
The Surface Dial is significant because it emphasises Microsoft's efforts to attract creative professionals to its ecosystem. While the Surface line is now an established name in the enterprise and professional markets, Apple's MacBooks and iPads are still commonly viewed as the go-to solution for artists and creatives. Microsoft is seeking to change that with the introduction of its Surface Studio all-in-one PC, Surface Dial and the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update.
Surface Dial is a unique piece of hardware designed specifically for use in creative work. It enables artists to work with both hands simultaneously. Changing paint colour or width no longer necessitates lifting the pen and diving into menus. It's possible to keep working, changing the stroke with a physical dial on the screen.
"Surface Dial is a new input device designed for the creative process, enabling you to work with both of your hands," said Microsoft. "It integrates with Windows 10 to work with any Surface device for a faster and more intuitive way to scroll, zoom, and navigate. It also enables a set of unique experiences exclusive to Surface Studio, such as app-specific digital tools that allow you to quickly access shortcuts and move seamlessly through your workflow."
Microsoft Surface Dial
Microsoft Surface Dial
Microsoft
Microsoft partners including BlueBeam, Drawboard, Mental Canvas, Siemens PLM Software, Silicon Benders, Smith Micro Software and StaffPad have already announced software integrations with the Surface Dial. These apps will be able to take full advantage of the device's capabilities, helping artists to work more productively and stay focused on their creations.
Surface Dial is compatible with any Windows 10 PC running the Anniversary Update, although its "on-screen" functionality is only available with Microsoft's new Surface Studio PC. The device will be available in the U.S. for $99 from November 10.
More about Microsoft, Surface, Microsoft surface, surface dial, Windows
 
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