The purchase of Perceptive Pixel (PPI) for an undisclosed amount was announced at Microsoft's Worldwide Partners
Conference in Toronto Monday. With the focus of Windows 8 on touch-based Metro applications, the addition of PPI will mean a different
scope of applications than could be accommodated on a typical small-format tablet.
"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," Kurt DelBene, president of Microsoft's Office
Division, says in a press release.
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PPI notably makes the enormous unlimited-touch touchscreens and applications used by CNN political analysts to
display voter maps and election results. Last year the company claims it produced the largest touchscreen and then
later in the year made an even larger one.
This year it unveiled a pen-and-touch screen that enables drawing with a stylus and manipulating the image with
fingers. The display is intelligent enough to ignore casually resting a hand on the screen.
Jennifer Colegrove, an analyst with DisplaySearch, says PPI has technology called Active Stylus that includes a
pressure-sensitive battery-powered stylus. If a person presses harder on the screen with the active pen, it creates
a wider line, similar to how a pencil makes a wider, darker line when pressed harder into paper. Freehand drawings
can be more precise, she says.
Owning the technology will give Microsoft the ability to either build devices on its own or license others to
make them. Currently the iPad, which some see as a competitor to Microsoft's announced Surface touch tablets,
doesn't have a similar stylus, Colegrove says.
Combined with current Microsoft partner products, its software will be able to run on devices as small as phones
and as large as PPI's biggest displays.