From @AwesomeTouch: New Microsoft Surface 2.0 unveiled at CES with less bulk, lower prices
Here at AwesomeTouch, we develop softare applications for large-format touchscreens. To this point, the hardware devices that can run our software has been limited and fragmented. We chose to use NextWindow‘s 2700 dual-touch overlays for their simplicity, and the trust in the name of SMART Technologies (their parent company).
In its first iteration, the Surface was a bulky table, with a dim 30-inch rear-projection display and an unattractive $12,500 price tag. It was really cool when launched in 2006, preciding the iPhone as the first mass-market experience with multitouch displays, but it hasn’t achieved product-market. It appears that Microsoft is reviving the stagnated Surface platform with this new device, known as the SUR40. It is manufactured by Samsung and is based on a 40-inch LCD display with PixelSense touch sensing technology developed by Microsoft. PixelSense uses a 4th subpixel component (in addition to Red, Green, and Blue subpixels) for image sensing. From a developer stance, this allows for thin, bright displays that can recognize human touch points as well as physical objects with unique identifiers. It will be interesting to see if QR code recognition or NFC hardware will be included to better facilitate interaction with mobile devices.
So, what does this mean for the future of AwesomeTouch? Our software is hardware-agnostic, so it operates on any system that is built with respect to the TUIO standard. Thus, the Surface 2.0 is a viable hardware option for us, and it will be interesting to see if it is adopted as the industry standard in a way that the Surface 1.0 was not.
What I am most curious to see is how Microsoft’s Surface 2.0 will affect the other suppliers of large-format multitouch hardware. NextWindow may be able to maintain viability for super-large displays (over 60inches) as their camera-based optical overlays seem to scale more economically than the Surface. The large-format multitouch hardware business for MultiTouch Ltd, Evoluce, Ideum, U-Touch, Nuiteq, GestureTek and PQ Labs could feel a significant impact from the Microsoft. It will be interesting to see how these companies pivot and seize other opportunities in the ecosystem for this platform. There still is no app store, and while $7600 is better than $12,500, the Surface 2.0 still isn’t as likely to show up in a living room as an XBox 360.