What’s Perceptive Pixel? It’s a six-year-old company founded by Jeff Han, a pioneer of multi-touch technology. Perceptive Pixel rose to some prominence during the 2008 presidential elections, when CNN and other networks used Perceptive Pixel screens as part of their coverage. (The following year, the Smithsonian gave the company its National Design Award in Interaction Design.) Redmond and PPI had flirted before; back in March, the two teamed up to make the an 82-inch display running Windows 8.
This deepens Microsoft’s foray into hardware, a journey whose other two major data points are the Xbox 360 and the forthcoming Surface tablet. (Historically, of course, Microsoft has been a software-licensing company.) PPI is first and foremost a hardware maker; it sells multitouch displays in 27, 55, and 82 inches–the latter can run as high as $80,000, though Steve Ballmer says he’d like to bring the price down. Per PPI’s site, its screens feature an optically bonded LCD touch display, projected capacitive technology, unlimited touch points, and sub-millimeter touch precision. Up to ten people can be fiddling around on the 1920x1080 HD resolution displays at once, reportedly.
But PPI is also a software company, and the press release put out by Microsoft emphasized, in an elliptical way, how the PPI acquisition would likely “take advantage of the tremendous momentum of the Microsoft Office Division.” Microsoft Office? What kind of spoiled accountant needs an 82-inch display to manage his spreadsheets?
In fact, as the video below makes clear, PPI’s work in user interface actually could pose a real threat to MS PowerPoint (or rather, could have posed a threat, before it was neutralized by the acquisition). PPI makes some software called Storyboard, which is calls a “next-generation presentation tool that enables you to quickly and easily tell the story you want to tell, using all of the assets at your disposal.” With Storyboard, you can play Tom Cruise in Minority Report with minimal training, suddenly looping apps, maps, live video feeds, and web pages all together with a few simple swipes. Take a look for yourself:
The 82” Gorilla Glass in the room, then, may be nothing more than a distraction. Even though Microsoft is taking–wisely–a greater interest in hardware, the investment in Perceptive Pixel was wise because of the latter’s software, design, and UI prowess.
This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting
With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.
VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence
On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.
This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine
Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.
This artist is dominating AI-generated art. And he’s not happy about it.
Greg Rutkowski is a more popular prompt than Picasso.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.