Just took a look at the World Wild Telescope and it looks interesting, perhaps just as importantly looks cool! Don't know enough to know if there are practical applications (I suspect there will be), but I think it's going to prove to be a great educational tool. Microsoft Research seems to find interesting stuff to work on, like the High Capacity Color Barcode or if you want something you can try, take a look at Split Screen (featured in Technet Magazine recently).
One entirely unpaid/unsolicited post for the people at MS Research. I need my own R&D department!