HP has announced something truly new and novel, a desktop PC that is entirely touch-based, but not by reaching out in front of you to touch the screen (which you can also do), but via an overhead projection onto a giant touchpad where a keyboard would normally be. Questions of practicality aside, it looks at first glance to be both a logical step in the direction technology is going, and a refreshingly new take on the desktop PC. It’s called the Sprout.
Skepticism is of course warranted. My immediate reservations include what appears from the video to be a big lack of saturation in the projection. I see this as a problem for two big reasons: One, it’s your primary way of interacting with the computer, so having things look dim or hazy could make it hard to be precise. Two, I’d worry that aside from when you’re typing, you’d be looking at the projection more than you would the primary display, which means most of your time is spent looking at the faint projection instead of the big, pretty monitor in front of you. That seems ergonomically awkward to say the least.
Perhaps in real life the image of the projection is much better than it seems in the promo videos (but I bet not as good as it looks in the promo photos)
But I suspect this is the right idea for where things are going. Take this concept as a foundation, and imagine that you have a rich, high-resolution projection with an iOS-style interface in front of a Retina iMac. Or instead of a projection, you have an iPad-style surface that adapts to the needs of the task at hand, and can even scan and sense dimension and distance of your hands and other objects. Now you’re talking.