PocketTouch technology uses a capacitive sensor mounted on the back of your touch device that Microsoft says lets you navigate your pocketed phone using gestures without ever having to remove it from its case.
PocketTouch is currently in an early development phase, and, as you can see from the video, it is not yet user friendly.
Another Microsoft Research project, Vermeer, centers around 3D images that respond to touch. Vermeer uses two facing parabolic mirrors to create a glasses-free 3D image that you can touch.
In Microsoft's demonstration video, Vermeer projects an image of a person that moves when "touched" by a finger. Microsoft says it creates Vermeer using 2880 images per second with a refresh rate of 15 frames per second. And just like the HoloDesk, Vermeer also uses a Kinect camera to track the user's fingertips as they interact with the virtual image.
The most famous research project of 2011 is IBM's Watson, a super computer designed to use artificial intelligence to play the TV game show Jeopardy by processing natural language queries. After thrashing its human opponents on television in February, Watson was routed to more practical applications.
Now, Watson provides its artificial intelligence to help doctors decide on optimal treatments for cancer patients. Watson parses data comparing symptoms with cures, and finds the most effective treatment for individuals.
What's next for Watson? IBM is turning Watson's attention to the business world where the technology is being used to conduct real-time analytics for financial institutions and also to spot fraud within large bureaucracies.