A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft made some cool announcements regarding its new Surface technology. See this video from Popular Mechanics that Andrew linked to a couple of weeks ago.
While the technology is certainly cool in a "gee wiz" kind of way, some have joked about its usefulness in real life. A parody video showed up on You Tube.
I admit, that video was quite a hoot! I was laughing the entire time. What that parody was lampooning was the silly PR-speak put into the official Microsoft announcement with grandiose visions of how the future will be. I wouldn't be shocked if that parody turned out to be done by a Microsoft person. As we saw at Tech Ed last month, Microsoft had no problem poking fun of itself when it used Christopher Lloyd and the Back to the Future theme to lampoon previous "visions".
But on a serious side, I do think the Surface technology is really cool. I see that "big ass table" as a prototype model. In its current form, it is going to have some niche use case scenarios (like the retail scenarios it's going to market with.... Sheraton, Harrah's, and T-Mobile.) A couple of weeks ago, there was an article about how Ralph Lauren is trying something along these lines in London. It doesn't use Microsoft's Surface, but the concept is similar. The ubiquity of surface computing mocked in the parody may not occur in everyone's home, but it likely will be in our lives, just via other means.
For the long term, there's a lot of work going on with this technology. Multi-touch interfaces are showing up in parallel efforts everywhere. Between MS Surface, the iPhone, the HTC Touch, etc... This technology is definitely the next potential "big thing" since the mouse when it comes to human to computer interfacing.
Check out this video of what the Microsoft Research folks in Cambridge, UK have been up to.
With the demo of a multi-touch interface on a laptop, you can see where this is going. While the Surface parody on You Tube mocks the Microsoft PR-speak "vision" by focusing on the "big ass table" form, I see that "big ass table" as probably just the beginning.