Microsoft Acquires Firm to Make Huge Touchscreens

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has acquired a firm that produces massive computer touchscreen displays. According to reports, the company plans to reduce the price of those screens, making them far more affordable for both businesses and home consumers.

Perceptive Pixel, which was founded in 2006, specializes in designing and manufacturing giant, wall-mounted, touchscreen displays as large as 80 inches across. The screens have advanced capabilities that allow multiple users to operate them at the same time.

The company received a major boost four years ago, when CNN used its touchscreens during broadcasts covering the 2008 Presidential election.

The screens allowed studio hosts to access a wide range of information in a way that could be seen by viewers, quickly, and without the need for background staff to decide in advance what data to show or to create special graphics. (Source:

The Perceptive Pixel displays use multi-touch technology, which allows them to be controlled on the fly by a wide range of swipe, drag, and pinch gestures.

Microsoft Could Slash Thousands From Touchscreen Costs

Tech analysts forecast two main goals for Microsoft as a result of the buyout. First, the acquisition will likely drive down prices on existing Perceptive Pixel screen products.

At the moment, the largest screens cost around $80,000, which severely limits the company's potential customer base.

Second, Microsoft could adapt the devices into self-contained computers. This could be done by attaching an internal processor and hard drive, which should be easy to do given the size of the screens' enclosures.

Giant Windows 8 Touchscreen PCs Now A Possibility

It's already been reported that Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer has an 82-inch screen running Windows 8 in his office.

While this size of device may be out of reach for most buyers, Perceptive Pixel does offer 27 inch touchscreens that could become the basis of a similar consumer product. (Source:

Another potential benefit from the acquisition is that Perceptive Pixel holds patents for several touchscreen technologies that could now be built into Microsoft's other products, most notably its new Surface tablet, a rival to the iPad.

Perhaps the most important Perceptive Pixel patent includes a technique that allows the screen to respond accurately to both fingers and styluses, which produce very different types of pressures.

Many manufacturers have struggled to accomplish this, because styluses tend to be much firmer than the soft flesh on fingertips.

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