The 5D Mark II Team has a good overview and demonstration of the prototype here.
A 3rd party developer has created a USB control unit for Canon DSLRs which acts as a follow-focus, using the AF motors of the lens to gently rack focus via a large wheel on the device.
It also contains a number of buttons which can control anything from the manual focus assist to focus zone selection.
If this can rack focus smoothly enough, and reasonably quietly it will be a huge must-have product for more casual DSLR shooters, or people not willing to go through the hassle of setting up mechanical follow focus gears.
It would allow people to be light on their feet, and swap lenses as quickly as possible. Great for the artist, docu-shooter or journalist.
The only thing that worries me slightly is that the buttons look to be like operating a secret codex. They have no labels, and they’re all the same. Someone is going to really have to memorise a manual to use it, something that as a man I never do!
Again – if they can get the AF motors to do a very smooth variable focus pull, it will be a miracle and I will go out and buy one immediately. If it has a stepping effect on slow focus pulls, it will be less of a must have but still interesting.
Manual focus from AF motors is a good idea and one I’ve been holding in mind for a while now. They should also make one of these for the Panasonic GH2. It’s 14-140mm HD lens is video optimised – the AF system is silent and more sophisticated than on Canon’s DSLR lenses. That’s one of the reasons I’m hankering for a mirrorless Canon, so they can get some decent live view AF lenses out! Contrast detect AF is a very different beast than phase detect AF, and it needs proper support from the lens to be at it’s best in video mode.
Speaking of remotes – I have an exciting product on the way from Australia which turns an iPhone into a sophisticated intervalometer for timelapses, and all-round awesome wireless remote for Canon DSLRs. Review coming soon!