Sorry for the awful alliteration - hadn't noticed it until it was too late :) While Elo and others have offered infra-red (IR) and camera-based touch screens like the CarrolTouch for a while, and IBM has used them in products like the Anyplace Kiosk for a few years now, it took Microsoft to make them exciting and sexy for the mass market. Their new Surface technology combines multiple cameras together on top of a projection screen to create a multi-touch capable surface that takes the computer "desktop" metaphor to a whole new level.
While Microsoft has been pitching the thing as an interactive coffee-table type thing designed for in-home use, the $5-10K price tag ensures that the first few adopters will be a bunch of technophiles with too much spending money, and, more importantly, businesses trying to use the device to advance their own goals.
While most of today's crop of self-service applications are optimized for quick, streamlined user interactions that don't require the use of a multi-touch device (heck, the applications we deploy usually don't even allow for mouse dragging), as users become more tech savvy and applications become more complex, I think there could be applications that could make good use of such a novel interface.
Tags: interactive kiosks, self-service, Surface