Microsoft and Apple have been getting all the attention when it comes to touchscreen computing, but it will be a long time until the average user has the future as promised by Minority Report in their own home. Surface's high cost, which will retail for between five and ten-thousand dollars, ensures that the Microsoft touchscreen will be available only in stores, hotels, restaurants, and other corporate environments for several years following its release. Apple's touchscreen, it seems, is only in the early stages of development -- if one's being developed at all. What appears to be the way of future computing might come to home computing years early, thanks to open source.

Touch screen technology has just been released to the open source community in the form of NOR_/D (NORTD)’s Touchkit, sister project of Eyebeam’s Cubit touchscreen table.

“Touchkit started out with one simple goal: to make multitouch available (as cheaply as possible) to the masses and to make the software of developing these systems transparent in nature,” says Touchkit’s website.

Addie Wagenknecht and Stefan Hechenberger, developers of Touchkit, hope that touch screen technology will make computing much easier.

“We believe in a larger vision of the shifting of hardware to touch based systems and software which your Grandmother (Hi Grandma!) can walk up and interact with, without the usual learning curve.”

The price is $1580 for the 27.5x19.7x0.5" screen and infrared camera and software development kit (computer and projector are not included). The code is available without hardware purchase.

Typically seen on the software side of things, hardware open source projects are becoming increasingly common. “What we're seeing is, hackers are engaging in the world of things in the way that they used to in the world of software,” said Tim O’Reilly.

By Mark Alvarez