Multitouch 'Skin' from DISPLAX Makes Screens Interactive

Technology can be applied on devices with a diagonal between 7 inches and 3 meters

Multitouch technology has definitely been one of the main reasons for the buzz behind most Windows 7-enabled products that have emerged over the past few months. The ability to recognize and track multiple touch inputs actually paved the way towards true human-machine interactivity. The latest in the series of advancements in this area comes from a developer of interactive technologies, DISPLAX by its name. This company has developed the DISPLAX Multitouch Technology, which is basically a thinner-than-paper polymer film that becomes interactive when it is applied to glass, plastic or wood.

While multitouch input is not exactly news, DISPLAX might genuinely be on to something when it says that its technology is the first of its kind. The incredibly thin polymer can recognize and track up to 16 simultaneous finger touch inputs on a 50-inch screen, with the number expected to grow along with the progress in the technology's development. While there is no real use for such a high number of inputs on any regular monitor, the DISPLAX Multitouch Technology claims to work on screens of up to three meters in diagonal, which genuinely provides the basis for true interactivity between a display and multiple people at the same time. Not only that, but fingers aren't all that the technology can detect. The polymer can supposedly even be interacted with by blowing on it, which is really a first in the history of touchscreen technology.

"Multitouch is the future of interacting with a wide range of technologies. For the commercial markets, the DISPLAX Multitouch Technology will open up new opportunities for many market players, technology vendors as well as businesses," Miguel Fonseca, chief business officer of DISPLAX, said. "It is extremely powerful, precise and versatile. Almost everyone who sees it thinks of new applications, from converting LCDs into a multitouch screen, tables into multitouch tables, to creating interactive information screens in stores, shopping malls or public areas, to developing new exciting gaming environments. We already have a number of interesting pilots in progress across Europe."

The 'skin' is based on patent-pending projected capacitive technology and receives inputs through a grid of nanowires embedded into the film attached to the enabled surface. Signals appear when a finger is placed on the screen or the user blows on it, because such acts produce a small electrical disturbance that is then passed through the aforementioned grid to a controller that analyses the data and decodes the location of each input. The controller, thus, tracks the finger and/or airflow movements. Even more convenient is the film's scalability, making it applicable on screens ranging between seven inches and three full meters in diagonal. This makes the DISPLAX Multitouch technology an appealing choice to both indoor and outdoor displays for a wide range of commercial applications.

The DISPLAX Multitouch Technology will supposedly "transform any non-conductive flat or curved surface into a multitouch screen." What this means is that it will even be possible to apply to standard LCD screens, making it a very attractive choice for innovative, next-generation displays. It is currently aimed at commercial environments, but the company also expects to receive orders from customers in the fields of telecoms, broadcast, pharma, retail, property and finance.

The DISPLAX Multitouch technology will start shipping in July 2010, at "competitive" prices, dependent on size. The company will also be offering an Apps Pack, free of charge, that will contain several embedded business applications "designed especially for the kind of installations that interactive technology companies work on." These will provide customers with the possibility to displays photo and video streams, provide access to social networks and Google Maps, as well as integrate new streams via RSS and play multitouch games. In addition, DISPLAX, and other developers, will bring out even more applications in the later parts of the ongoing year.

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