Microsoft Licenses Another Piece of Its IP

By Mary Jo  |  Posted 2006-07-19

Microsoft has licensed its "Touchlight" touch-screen technology to EON Reality, a visual-content-management software vendor.

With the deal, announced July 19, EON joins a handful of other companies that have signed deals to license Microsoft-Research-developed technologies under the auspices of Microsoft's IP Ventures licensing unit. Current licensees include Ireland, the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development (Sitra), Inrix, Skinkers, Softedge-Systems, Vimio plc and Wallop Inc.

Microsoft created IP Ventures in May 2005. At that time, Microsoft made 20 of its research technologies available for licensing to venture capitalists, startups and other interested parties in exchange for equity stakes and/or royalty payments. Among the technologies Microsoft is offering to license is everything from Conference XP, a distance-learning program; to a mesh-networking program; to "Wallop," a social-networking application.

Touchlight is another of the technologies Microsoft has been offering to potential licensees. Touchlight, which Microsoft has been touting since 2004, is an imaging touch screen and display allowing gesture-based interaction. With Touchlight,

"the outputs of two video cameras behind a transparent projection display are combined to produce an image of objects on the display surface," according to a description of the technology from the SIGGRAPH 2005 show.

EON is planning to incorporate the Touchlight into a number of products it is planning to commercialize, starting at the end of this year, according to EON Executive Vice President Sean O'Brien.

Among the applications into which EON is planning to incorporate Touchlight are interactive trade-show demonstrations, training applications and technical documentation applications, primarily in the commercial, automotive, aerospace and defense industries. Within 24 to 36 months, EON is predicting that applications based on Touchlight could become affordable to other kinds of desktop users.

"Aircraft vendors could use it to bring bulky, fragile things to a trade show virtually," O'Brien explained. "It could let you do things like handle an engine while the blades are spinning."

Microsoft is planning to work with EON for the next three to four months on developing development tools for Touchlight, said David Harnett, senior director of Microsoft's IP Ventures group. And even though the deal between the two is not exclusive, "at the end of the day, the products (incorporating Touchlight) will be branded as EON," Harnett said.

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