Microsoft announced yesterday its intent to acquire Perceptive Pixel – the multi-touch experts behind such large-screen implementations as the CNN election board – and the news had me digging through old ZNF posts for something that was tickling the back of my brain.
Sure enough, I posted a video from Perceptive Pixel way back in 2007 (re-posted below), right about the same time early news surfaced that Microsoft was working on a multi-touch laptop. The two companies have both been tangoing with multi-touch tech for more than five years, and each one has clearly had an eye on where the other was headed.
Today, Perceptive Pixel lists high-profile customers in defense, education, broadcast TV and more. Microsoft, on the other hand, is playing catch-up, with plans finally crystalizing around the launch of a multi-touch tablet. Part of the company’s problem has been its hardware partners. The Redmond giant sent a clear signal when it announced it was producing a tablet on its own. Now, with the acquisition of Perceptive Pixel, it’s saying it wants to bring further hardware expertise in-house too.
Microsoft and Perceptive Pixel worked together earlier this year to produce a large-screen multi-touch demo at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Clearly Microsoft like the collaboration and was willing to put some money behind future joint efforts. We don’t know where those efforts will lead, but it’s easy to imagine new classroom smartboards, high-tech crime-solving units (think Minority Report), and wall-size forecasting applications for weather and election reporters.
Whatever the plans, let’s hope Microsoft gives the Perceptive Pixel team some running room. The company has proven it can execute on its multi-touch design, which is just what Microsoft needs.