Microsoft unveiled a new tabletop computing interface it is dubbing "surface computing." In the works for five years in Microsoft Research as a project called Milan, the idea is to transform a surface as big as tabletop into a touchscreen in order to be able to manipulate images, paint with brushes, or move digital objects around with your fingers. (Check out the Popular Mechanics video embedded above).
Microsoft did not invent this concept. I've seen it before in high-end custom-hardware mapping applications, and Apple's upcoming iPhone shares some of the "multi-touch" interface techniques (such as being able to make a picture bigger by pulling apart opposite corners with two fingers). But this may signal that the technology is finally ready to leave the research labs and venture into the real world.
Still, I wonder if this technology is getting ahead of itself, or are we truly on our way to a more immersive, Minority Report-like era of computing? We are still many years from this going mainstream. These Microsoft Surface computers will cost $10,000 to start, and are being sold to enterprises such as T-Mobile and Starwood to liven up their retail stores and hotels. I still want one though.