Ho'k. It's no secret that I hate the mouse the way Skynet hates John Connor. If I could, I'd be sending California governors back in time to blow up Xerox PARC, but fscking physics just has to be a party pooper about that. The mouse is here to stay, and I'm just going to have to deal with it.
But there is one bright spark of hope for the human interaction with computers, and that is multi-touch. It's not revolutionary in the sense of dot-com Super Bowl commercials with some jackass in a black turtleneck staring off into distance at all the great things ordering printer paper online will let him accomplish kind of revolutionary, but more in the sense of "Hey, maybe if we like dig a shallow trench between these two towns and fill it with rocks and then some sand to smooth it out, the wagon trips won't be so bumpy" kind of revolutionary.
There are some amazingly cool things we can do from a user interface perspective beyond the simple pinch-to-zoom-in and ooh-look-I-just-threw-a-photo-across-the-desktop stuff we've seen so far. The folks over at NUI Group have a similar vision, and have started amassing information about what a MT interface should look like, how it should act, and all that good stuff.
And so, I started looking around for a multitouch screen I could buy so I could get in on the action.
The problem comes in with the fact that there's not really a whole lot of consumer stuff out yet. Windows 7 will include support for MT devices, and there's a few laptops that are beginning to show up on the radar, but stuff like MS's Surface display is in the $10K price range. If you're looking for something large but cost effective, the only solution appears to be building a FTIR device yourself.
I've started doing some research on how to put this all together, and it doesn't look too difficult. I'm planning on doing some research on the way and making notes somewhere to answer some of the questions I've had (ie, just how many IR LEDs do you need to get this working, can you sub in cheaper display technologies than an off the shelf projector, can I trick Krak into rubbing some peanut butter on his monitor, what sort of machine specs will be needed to run this smoothly, etc).
Until then, here's some links:
Maximum PC's DIY MT Table
Wired Article on Yotam Mann's DIY Laser based MT system
Gizmodo's coverage of Multipointer X
ENAC's MPX based project
arbatrarious's DIY Laser Table project (which I'm now leaning towards instead of FTIR)