San Francisco -- In novel display of innovations, world's biggest software maker Microsoft on Monday announced that it has entered into an agreement to buy Perceptive Pixel (PPI), a company specializing in large-scale multi-touch workstations and “wall solutions,” an acquisition Microsoft expects will boost its enterprise collaboration and communication offerings.
According to the Perceptive Pixel site, its patented technology is largely being utilized in broadcast, government, defense, energy, higher education, engineering and product design. Multi-touch expert and researcher Jeff Han is chief technology and co-founder of Perceptive Pixel.
“Our innovative, multi-touch platform enables professionals to become more productive, make better and faster decisions, improve results, and collaborate and present their ideas more effectively.”
Microsoft said it is acquiring Perceptive Pixel, also referred to as PPI, is a six-year-old company engaged in the research, development and production of large-scale, multi-touch display solutions.
“The acquisition of PPI allows us to draw on our complementary strengths, and we are incredibly thrilled to accelerate this market evolution,” Kurt DelBene, president of Microsoft's Office Division, said in a statement. “PPI'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 PPI company made a name for itself in 2008 during the U.S. presidential election after several networks used its technology to power their 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. Since then, the company has largely been operating under the radar and improving its technologies. This year, it announced the first-ever simultaneous pen and touch technology for its hardware.
The company hardware currently list 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.
A Perceptive Pixel display in action. (Credit: Perceptive Pixel)
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer disclosed the purchase during the first keynote of Microsoft's worldwide partner conference in Toronto.
Furthermore, officials from Perceptive Pixel displayed a Windows 8-based demonstration of OneNote, Microsoft's electronic note-taking app, on a large screen on stage at the show. They also showed off an ad-hoc collaboration called Storyboard on the large multitouch screen. Ballmer underlined Skype and Lync also would be good applications to show off on the new hardware.
However, the software giant did not revealed financial terms of the deal, which is subject to customary closing conditions and approvals. Also, currently, Perceptive Pixel's hardware tends to sell for $180,000. But Microsoft plans to work on making it more affordable, Ballmer said.
“There is a incredible opportunity in the collaboration and productivity market for us to change the way meetings are conducted in boardrooms, offices and classrooms,” said Giovanni Mezgec, general manager for Lync at Microsoft.
With PPI under its umbrella, Microsoft will seek to make the use of large, touch displays mainstream in workplaces, he said. “The work environment could fundamentally change with multi-touch, large screen technology,” he said.
Once the deal materializes, Microsoft will continue to actively market PPI products, which it foresees will work particularly well with Windows 8 devices, since the new OS has a new interface called Metro that is optimized for touch input.