Microsoft buys multitouch display maker Perceptive Pixel

Microsoft buys multitouch display maker Perceptive Pixel

Summary: Microsoft buys multi-touch large-display vendor, emphasizing collaboration in office work as one of the main potential uses of the technology.


Microsoft announced on July 9 plans to buy Perceptive Pixel, a six-year-old maker of high-performance multi-touch workstations and "wall solutions."


Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to the Perceptive Pixel site, its patented technology is used in broadcast, government, defense, energy, higher education, engineering and product design. Multi-touch expert and researcher Jeff Han is the founder of Perceptive Pixel.

"Our innovative, multi-touch platform enables professionals to become more productive, make better and faster decisions, improve results, and collaborate and present their ideas more effectively."

Perceptive Pixel unveiled earlier this year its first-ever simultaneous pen and touch solution.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced the purchase during the first keynote of Microsoft's worldwide partner conference in Toronto.

Officials from Perceptive Pixel demonstrated a Windows 8-based demons tration of OneNote, Microsoft's electronic note-taking app, on a large screen on stage at the show. They also showed off an ad-hoc collaboration called Storyboard on the large multitouch screen. Ballmer emphasized Skype and Lync also would be good applications to show off on the new hardware.

Currently, Perceptive Pixel's hardware tends to sell for $180,000. $80,000. But Microsoft plans to work on making it more affordable, Ballmer said.

Microsoft is not a stranger to large-size displays. The company has been working on table-sized multitouch tables -- formerly known as Surface, but now known as PixelSense. The latest version of those table/kiosk-size devices are made by Samsung.

Topics: Collaboration, Hardware, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Microsoft buys multitouch display maker Perceptive Pixel

    This falls in line with what they are currently doing with their efforts on using touch on the Surface and PixelSense. Microsoft seems to be taking a more hands on approach to the future of hardware.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • Yep

    It is official, MS is about to copy the entire Apple strategy!
    • What strategy?

      @Weekid - please elaborate. What Apple strategy are Microsoft copying here?
      • Allow me to elaborate

        Created the vertically integrated "closed" Zune players, following Apple’s iPods (sorry PFS partners).

        Changed their smart phone strategy from open to a "closed" one, following Apple (RIP WinMo, no more styluses, more closed-off ecosystem).

        WP7 reliance on Zune Software, much like Apple's iTunes (more reliance than iTunes actually).

        Created their own curated app store for Windows software, following Apple's Mac App Store.

        Cloned Apple's App Store business model of 30/70 split.

        Created their own vertically integrated "closed" Surface tablets, following Apple again (sorry OEM partners, again).

        Launching there own Microsoft brick n' mortar stores, cloning Apple again.

        A new emphasis on secrecy, following Apple.

        Did you see the recent Surface presentation? These guys where definitely trying there best to channel Steve Jobs and Apple's iPad presentations:

        Apple - “The reason that Apple is able to create products like iPad is because we always try to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts, to be able to get the best of both”

        Microsoft - "We believe that any intersection between human and machine can be made better when all aspects, hardware and software, are working together"

        Apple - "when technology gets out of the way [of the iPad], everything becomes more delightful"

        Microsoft - "The edges are beveled away at 22 degrees so the PC itself fads into the background."
    • Please explain

      I figured this was for the Windows platform. The article mentioned pen and touch which Windows has had since XP. I don't think Apple has either of these in the OSX line.
      • Pen and touch

        I have a HP Jornada from 1995 that had Pen and Touch on WinCE. None of this technology is new. Just better
      • Ink and Multitouch on OSX

        Well, basically on OSX, for pen input there is something called ink and for multitouch, it is through the glass touchpad. This way, you can keep your screen nice and clean. I’m sure any Apple Store could demonstrate the ink input system and they will gladly let you try the trackpads on the MacBook Airs and Pros.
        • More on OSX multitouch.

          Also, on desktop Macs one could use the Magic TrackPad to do the same multitouch gestures as well.
    • Get the facts

      Apple is way behind Microsoft here. Once again, Microsoft has shown their greatness. Windows ME and Windows Vista are previous examples of their greatness and ability to innovate.
      Liverack Dovidson
      • Tone it down bit. You sound too much fanboyish, to the point that you

        actually sound sarcastic in your comments.

        So, which is it?
        • Clearly sarcasm

          because Windows ME was a joke. And MS doesn't "show their greatness" buy buying a company with good ideas. You might be able to say that MS "shows their possible business sense and fiscal prowess by buying a company that might be headed somewhere good in the future," but showing their greatness would be coming up with an original idea on their own, or putting a new spin on an old idea to the point that the general populous can get excited about it, and buying a multi-touch interface company isn't that yet. Maybe they can do something with it in the future to make it so though.
      • You..l

        ...are delusional. Microsoft is tens of millions of customers and tens of billions of dollars behind Apple in mobile. They will not be making up that lost ground with another iteration of the Surface table.
        • By next year at this time, you will have been proven wrong!

          So, the delusion and desperation is on your side.
  • Many thanks to Steve Ballmer

    We over at WorkSpace hosted Lync can’t wait to get our hands on Perceptive Pixel to integrate into our Lync Help-Desk outsourcing services. This will be a valuable tool for our command center personnel and our cloud customers on WorkSpace Lync.
    Lync in the Cloud
  • buy and bury ;)

    buy and bury ;)
  • Ink input on OSX

    I believe the ink input on OSX evolved from the Newton MessagePad technology if memory serves me correctly.
    • ...

      which evolved from a physical pen, which evolved from a quill dipped into a well with actual ink in it. Huzzah for evolution :)
  • Scada Systems is a Real Market for these

    Large screen displays with touch would be absolutely ideal for SCADA systems. Water plantand sewer plant SCADA systems ( my expertise), industrial plants, etc. etc. would work great on larger touch and pen screens. One could instantly see what was going on, drill down with a touch or two and understand problem if there is one. Multiple people could view it at one time. For a SCADA screen, the bigger the better. $180,000 is bit steep, but of course will drop.
  • Very interesting!

    I wonder if there will be a convergence of Perceptive Pixel, PixelSense and Surface. I certainly hope so!
  • JEFF HAN = father and true pioneer of modern multitouch tech and paradigms

    Working on it for many years prior, Jeff was the first to herald it to the public in Feb. 2006 during the TED conference.

    Then Apple came along, copied all of it, and then proclaimed it as their own innovation.
    iSheep have been lapping up this story ever since.