At the Sneak Peek keynote we showed off the MSR Cambridge Family Archive project. A research project that uses a multitouch tabletop hardware solution to enable families to record, store and view digital images of items important to them. As well as the obvious photos and videos, the device had a camera attached that enabled other physical objects to be 'captured' and stored in the system as well. Note the device we demo'ed was not a surface device - although it would be perfectly possible to implement the solution using a Surface, although at $10k per Surface - unlikely.
I was surprised in the run up to the keynote just how feasible it is to build a multitouch device. The MSR device uses a technique called Frustrated Total Internal Reflection (FTIR). It all sounds very deep but actually it is a technique that has been around for a while and, it turns out, there is an active community of people building home brew multitouch solutions!
The primary group I have found is the NUIGroup. They have a terrific resource online all about building multitouch solutions AND a stack of .Net frameworks (touchlib, controls etc) to allow you to build apps for them - once you've built it. Awesome! Even using WPF and Silverlight - Super Awesome!
Even more fantastic. I discovered a very simple project that just uses an unmodified webcam to enable you to play with Multitouch. The MTMini is a 5minute project that gives you a multitouch device to play with.
Watch the video - I guarantee you'll be building your own MTMini with in minutes. I have and it works really well :-)