Microsoft thinks so. Its Surface UI platform offers new ways of transforming familiar objects -- such as tables -- into collaborative computing spaces, complete with novel input devices that move beyond the limitations of the common mouse. But Microsoft's most anticipated input innovation is Kinect for Xbox 360, formerly known as Project Natal. Aimed at helping Microsoft's Xbox compete with the Nintendo Wii console, Kinect for Xbox 360 is a gaming interface with no controllers. Instead, players manipulate in-game objects simply by moving and gesturing in midair. If the concept catches on with consumers, it could have potential applications for kiosks and touchscreen devices, as well.
Perhaps the best example of Hollywood UI technology made real, however, is the g-speak spatial operating environment from Oblong Industries. With roots at MIT's Media Laboratory, g-speak enables spatial and gestural control of graphical objects for a wide range of potential applications. With 3-D televisions and monitor screens expected to go mainstream in the near future, don't be surprised if g-speak or something like it is coming soon to a PC near you.
Neil McAllister is a freelance writer based in San Francisco. He also writes InfoWorld's Fatal Exception blog.