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Microsoft Turns Tables Into PCs

Remember "Minority Report"? If you're in the ad business, you do. The Tom Cruise blockbuster had ad execs everywhere cooing over hand gesture technology and deliciously targeted, personalized advertising. It turns out that Bill Gates and Microsoft remember the flick, too. Today, the technology giant is taking the cover off an expensive tabletop technology that relies on touch and hand gestures just like in the 2002 film.

It's called Surface Computing, and Gates thinks it just might be the biggest breakthrough in computing technology since the mouse. Let's for a second recall a supposed game-changer of Microsoft's past: the highly touted Windows Media Center, which was so expensive only multi-millionaires could afford it. This will cost between $5K and $10K, depending on the size screen and capacity.

But it's cool. The technology turns tabletops into canvases where users can browse music libraries by dragging fingers across a horizontal display. They can also scan devices and compare them to similar offerings from other makers. Similarly, if you plunk a digital camera on the screen, you can upload photos. The screen, operated by cameras, can register up to 52 touches at a time, ideal for business meetings.

Wireless technology can also scan objects in a room and pull up information from the Web. The product is still several years away from being completed.

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