back to article Look, ma, FOUR HANDS! Microsoft bigs up pixeltastic TWO-USER mega-screen

Microsoft is getting ready to big up very large-screen systems sporting multi-touch tech it bought in 2012. Stephen Elop, the former Microsoft-exec-turned-Nokia-CEO-turned-Microsoft exec, reportedly told Australians his old/new employer is about to start ramping up production. Microsoft's devices group executive vice …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good....

    ...hopefully replaces interactive whiteboards which are utter PITA.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good....

      Faux News already made great use of this technology:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp-ka84Am50

      Microsoft are really ahead of the curve with Windows 8, and consumer level hardware is still catching up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good....

        We are really ahead of the curve with Windows 8, and consumer level hardware is still catching up.

        FTFY

  2. Geoff Campbell
    Boffin

    "Most mainstream touch-technology, like that on an Apple or Windows tablet, is single touch."

    You don't really mean that, do you? 'cos it's crap.

    GJC

    1. Gareth Jones

      Re: "Most mainstream touch-technology, like that on an Apple or Windows tablet, is single touch."

      It is single-touch in this context. Yes, it will accept multi-touch 'gestures' such as two-finger swipes but the point of this new tech is that it will accept multiple users simultaneously. So with a large 'whiteboard' you could have multiple people drawing or moving objects about at the same time. If you try that on a current 'multi-touch' setup it'll just assume you have one massive hand spanning the whole screen.

      1. Geoff Campbell

        Re: "Most mainstream touch-technology, like that on an Apple or Windows tablet, is single touch."

        Sure, I got that. That's not really a change in technology, though, it's just a minor change in the assumptions made by the software.

        GJC

      2. Paul Shirley

        Re: "Most mainstream touch-technology, like that on an Apple or Windows tablet, is single touch."

        There's nothing new about multiple user touch either, games on phones/tablets have been doing it all along, either tracking fingers independently or in some cases tracking 2 users sharing a screen with independent controls.

        What's new is bothering to apply that to a work UI. As so often, where gaming leads, the workplace follows.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: "Most mainstream touch-technology, like that on an Apple or Windows tablet, is single touch."

          >What's new is bothering to apply that to a work UI.

          Not so sure about that part being new. What I think is new is the combination of multi-touch with very large high-res immersive displays. You can get a feel of things from the video in this article: http://betanews.com/2014/04/10/why-microsofts-perceptive-pixel-is-the-coolest-touch-tv-you-cant-buy-yet/

          However, what this video demonstrates is that there is some serious graphics and screen handling processing going on behind the scenes. It also indicates that MS will have to separate the UI from the underlying OS as I don't see how the UI paradigms that work on a single user smartphone really still hold true on a large multi-user UI.

          1. JDX Gold badge

            Re: "Most mainstream touch-technology, like that on an Apple or Windows tablet, is single touch."

            You can track every individual touch in iOS if you choose to work at that level rather than have iOS recognise gestures for you. It's pretty basic iOS programming and I assume Android and Windows expose the same stuff.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: "Most mainstream touch-technology, like that on an Apple or Windows tablet, is single touch."

        >If you try that on a current 'multi-touch' setup it'll just assume you have one massive hand spanning the whole screen.

        Obviously you didn't play around with the Surface (coffee table version) which supported multi-user multi-touch (and multiple user orientations). My understanding is one of the key reasons why current generation mass market devices (ie. desktop monitors, laptops, tablets and phones) have very limited multi-touch capabilities (and only support a single user orientation) is because of performance and cost considerations.

  3. Bladeforce

    not a good idea...

    There's nothing worse than having a few people around a board touching it at the same time. Take your turn its not bloody hard!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: not a good idea...

      "There's nothing worse than having a few people around a board touching it at the same time"

      Normally yes, but this technology lets people work on and update different things at the same time without conflict.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: not a good idea...

      "Take your turn its not bloody hard!"

      Only if you play chess,,,

      There are many situations where more than one people may work on the same screen at the same time. Look for example at the latest Dassault Sytems 3D CAD software....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: not a good idea...

        > Look for example at the latest Dassault Sytems 3D CAD software....

        Draftsight? What about it?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I picture...

    One humongous screen, and 2 or 3 people drawing in a CAD environment. Or having 2 mice to rotate things by intuitively rotating the pointers around each other. Selecting and dragging pieces of text could be done in a single 'action'...

    Hell, I could even have some uses for it in my desktop.

    Of course, whiteboards would be awesome, but if feels more like a solution looking for a problem. Perhaps games could benefit from it, 2 or more players interacting with a screen, etc...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I picture...

      Not really, I was thrashing out a design the other week with some techs from another and we were often drawing at the same time on an old fashioned flip chart..

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: I picture...

        >with some techs from another and we were often drawing at the same time on an old fashioned flip chart..

        You could do all that with the Surface (coffee table version). Unfortunately because MS kept the tech in-house there was no evolution. If common sense had prevailed then MS would of released the API's and dev kit - but that might have given people another reason to stay with XP...

  5. Frankee Llonnygog

    I don't understand Microsoft's obsession ...

    ... with niche technologies. I expect it's to do with 'tax efficiencies"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't understand Microsoft's obsession ...

      Today's niche is tomorrow's ubiquitous.

      The hard part is figuring out which ones will make that transition.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't understand Microsoft's obsession ...

      Personal computers were niche before MS got into the game

      I enjoyed touchscreen smartphones- with GPS, voice recognition, a full high-speed web browsing experience- years before the iPhone 3G made it commonplace

      They were pushing forwards things like DirectX- helping along the video game industry and leading to the Xbox- when the competition was what, The N64? Playstation 1? That was just about the time videogaming was stopping being niche.

      They had tablets in about 1998ish. Rather a niche market back then. As were internet-delivered TV and videoconferencing which made it into Win98.

      MS has been at or just behind the cutting edge of every major bit of desktop computing for more than 20 years. Generally they get there and try something, then release what's not much more than a prototype, then it fails. Years later Apple or suchlike release a less functional, shinier one and get lauded as visionaries...

  6. mIRCat
    Windows

    I'll take the suit too, please.

    Where's that ironman technology that Elon demonstrated (No, not the suit) a few months back? That's something I'd like to see more of.

    Do you think it runs on Win8?

  7. Mario Becroft
    Thumb Up

    Multi-user per screen actually has some really great use cases, both involving single users with multiple pointing devices, and multiple users collaborating, even on traditional workstation displays. On a white board it is a whole other kettle of fish again.

    Multi-pointer X is very interesting in this respect. The problem is, nearly all existing software is based on an assumption of one focus widget at a time, let alone multiple pointers/users interacting with the same widget. Therefore it is not trivial but moderately easy to support multiple pointers each interacting with a different client (already useful), but multiple pointers interacting with the same application to (say) edit different parts of a drawing at the same time (an experience trivially easy with pen and paper, not yet replicated on computer) is considerably more difficult.

    I would love for this technology to become more mainstream.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MPX?

    So, what is the difference between this technology and MPX (Multipointer X), which has existed for a number of years?

    See video below for a demonstration from 2007:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olWjnfBoY8E. You can fast forward to 1:30 or so.

  9. VinceH
    Coat

    "Microsoft bought PPI in July 2012."

    They should check that it wasn't mis-sold to them, because if it was they should be able to claim the money back.

    COAT!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Third attempt....

    This has been done before, at one time it was $15k, then $10K and renamed. Same stuff, more proof MS is good at polish turds....

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2EuXTR4m5A

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