The multi-touch movement is certainly gaining in strength and now it looks like the commercial markets will finally get something that is not a toy.
From one side, we have consumer multi-touch devices such as the $299 Asus EEE PC netbook, Apple iPhone or the Dell and HP All-in-One PCs. From another, we have high-level commercial solutions such as Perceptive Pixel technology used on TV networks such as CNN. However, the high-end consumer and professional users didn't had access to a multi-touch display that would not be a toy or cost an arm and a leg.
3M M2256PW Multi-Touch Display isn't FullHD but it's already competing for Display of 2010 award
While 3M isn't known as a display manufacturer, this giant is now bringing a 22" 20-finger multi-touch display with anywhere between 10-18ms per-finger response. Thanks to built-in technology from 3M, the processing engine is capable of handing 20-finger as well - this display is faster than majority of multi-touch enabled devices on the market.
Enter M2256PW. The display uses 3M "Projected Capacitive Technology" glass that sits in front of the standard 22" panel with 1680x1050 pixel resolution. The glass is an integral part of the LCD panel on pixel-per-pixel basis for maximum precision. Touch detection is extremely fast and 3M is hoping that this will be the first display on the commercial market that will start to squeeze out special controllers i.e. CAD/CAM/CAE applications and later, even endanger the keyboard and a mouse. During our brief experience with the device, we checked how the display reacts in SpaceClaim, an application that fooled us as it looked similar to SolidWorks but in reality, it is fantastically multi-touch optimized. For starters, we must admit that handling several advanced models was so easy that it isn't hard to forget various key combinations that were needed in the past.
Jeff Han, Founder and CEO of Perceptive Pixel shows us just how easy it is to navigate through their app
3M didn't stop there. Perceptive Pixel developed an intuitive YouTube search application that probably better fits the consumer than the commercial aspect of this display. The application automatically refreshes the search results based on the video you're currently focusing on and saves search results in form of visual clusters. It's a bit hard to explain - it works on good old fashioned "Keep It Simple Salesman" principle.
The company recently finalized the pricing details at $1499 a piece. With shipping commencing in March [real volume is expected for April 2010], there is still time to put down the finishing touches on this model. The guys in our video department are awaiting this baby with great expectations, given the $$$$ controllers they use on everyday basis. If 3M is able to replace those specialized controllers in commercial industries world-wide, then a whole sea of opportunities is opening right up.
Is this the dream controller for 3ds Max, Maya, SolidWorks,CATIA, Premiere Pro, Illustrator and others? Only time will tell.
Update #1, January 28, 2010 22:34 GMT -
Following our talk with 3M, we updated the story with most important information - it uses glass instead of multi-touch film, multi-touch control logic is built inside the hardware and naturally, the price is now set at $1499. We thank Jane and John from 3M on clarification.
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