Microsoft to Acquire Perceptive Pixel and Its Large Multi-Touch Displays

The software giant is buying Perceptive Pixel, which manufactures wall-mounted and workstation-size multi-touch displays and a stylus for marking up on-screen images.

Microsoft said it is acquiring Perceptive Pixel, a six-year-old company involved in the research, development and production of large-scale, multi-touch display solutions.

Perceptive Pixel, also referred to as PPI, is the technology behind those large wall-sized displays that anchors on CNN use to show maps of the United States and identify which states are turning blue or red during election night coverage. The company makes 27-inch, 55-inch and 82-inch LCD multi-touch displays that can be wall-mounted or operate as a desktop workstation. The Active Stylus product is a pen-like device that a person can use to write on a screen image as though they were putting an ink pen to paper.

€œThe acquisition of PPI allows us to draw on our complementary strengths, and we€™re excited to accelerate this market evolution,€ Kurt DelBene, president of Microsoft€™s Office Division, said in a statement. €œPPI€™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.€

The Windows 8 operating system, expected to be widely available by late October, will deliver multi-touch capabilities to endpoint devices. At its Worldwide Partner Conference July 9 in Toronto, Microsoft announced that Windows 8 would be released to manufacturers in early August.

Perceptive Pixel was founded in 2006 by Jeff Han, described as a pioneer in multi-touch technology. The company shipped its first workstation and wall-mounted displays in 2007 and was a feature of CNN€™s coverage of the presidential race in 2008 and various other state races. The Smithsonian awarded the company the National Design Award in 2009 in its first-ever category of Interaction Design.

The displays will be interoperable with Microsoft Office applications, particularly those that enable collaboration such as Lync and SharePoint, said Han.

On the software side, Perceptive Pixel offers an application called Storyboard to help plan presentations like a director uses a storyboard to plan the shooting of a movie or other production, PetroTouch for specific use of multi-touch in the field of geoscience, an Election app to create maps for TV news coverage of elections and a Perspective Pixel API for incorporating multi-touch into other apps.

Terms of the acquisition by Microsoft were not disclosed.