Recently, Microsoft has been deeply involved with touch screens and human-machine interactive interfaces. One of the earliest touch devices might be the original Surface in 2007, a massive table computer with a projector and several CMOS sensors as touch sensors. Microsoft’s new Surface tablet PCs are Windows-based devices with clever and simple designs including10.6” displays with touch screens. The specs show that the Surface Pro will have a pen input with palm block.
Today, Microsoft announced its plan to acquire Perceptive Pixel Inc. Founded in 2006 by Jeff Han, PPI was famous for multi-touch technology before Apple’s iPhone (first released in 2007). PPI first used FTIR multi-touch and then switched to projected capacitive touch a few years ago, demonstrating an 82” projected capacitive touch panel in 2011. PPI’s touch also comes with an active pen which enables accurate/ elegant handwriting.
Microsoft should benefit by integrating PPI’s touch and pen technologies into its products. As Microsoft’s Office Division President, Kurt DelBene, indicated, “PPI’s large touch displays, when combined with hardware from our OEMs, will become powerful Windows 8-based PCs and open new possibilities for productivity and collaboration.” At the same time, with Microsoft’s help, Perceptive Pixel could expand their technology from vertical market to consumer products. Of course, Perceptive Pixel and its investors will also be able to capitalize on their investment and efforts.
In surveys for our recent Touch Panel Market Analysis, we found that there are still more than 200 touch screen suppliers, so we should expect ongoing consolidation in the industry.