MultiTouch Has a Smarter Big Screen

Mari Silbey —  January 6, 2011

Smart TVs are making a lot of the headlines this week, but a company called MultiTouch has a different genre of screens on display, and they are wicked cool. The MultiTouch Displays are similar to the Microsoft Surface technology that was all the rage a few years back, and to the HP TouchSmart product that Dave got a chance to play with at CES 2009. However, the displays from MultiTouch are modular, meaning you can connect multiple screens together; they’ve been implemented all over the world in tables and walls; and the platform is open so developers can create their own applications for the touchscreen interface. And oh, what a touchscreen interface it is.

The applications on display in the MultiTouch booth include a Twitter wall, a photo table, and a table application that was created for Dom Perignon with interactive champagne bubbles, a customized menu, and even table games. The company says it also has the technology deployed in medical, military, museum, and university environments, among others. The screens support an unlimited number of touch points from fingertips, to 2D markers, to household objects like coins. And because the platform is open, the possible applications are virtually limitless.

At CES, MultiTouch has announced the next-gen version of its platform and dubbed the technology MultiTaction.  The resulting displays are thinner, and scalable for screens ranging from “32 to 100 inches and beyond.” The company also says it will be ready to ship for the consumer market no later than Q3 of this year. The displays aren’t cheap, but at $4,000 a pop, they’re not out of reach for a certain slice of the population. And that’s the price this year. Surely eventually mass production will drive the price down further.

A few technical notes:

  • MultiTouch uses optical multitouch sensor technology, but says it has eliminated some of the typical problems with the tech – specifically sensitivity to external lighting –  by incorporating hybrid reflection/shadow tracking technology.
  • MultiTouch provides smooth edge-to-edge glass on its display units.
  • The modular camera system scales up and down for a huge range of high-res display sizes.

I did ask the CEO Petri Martikainen if the company is having any conversations with channel partners about pairing its display tech with any of the TV apps we’re seeing everywhere else. He couldn’t share any details, but the short answer was yes. I can’t wait to see what MultiTouch has up its sleeve next.