Why Microsoft's Perceptive Pixel is the coolest touch TV you can't buy (yet)

perceptive pixel

It's tough for me to get too excited about TVs these days. I'm past the glitz of the 3D craze. And "large" 60 and 70 plus inch screens are neat, but after enjoying a 114" viewing area thanks to my home projector the last few years, anything smaller pales in comparison. Yet when I got to try out an 82" Perceptive Pixel touch TV at Microsoft's Chicago offices earlier today, I couldn't resist wanting one for my own condo or even office. It's that unique of a TV screen, and if when it goes mainstream, it will completely change the way we view interactive entertainment displays.

My visit to Microsoft had nothing to do with this little-discussed burgeoning technology. In all honesty, I was there for a Microsoft Azure IaaS cloud training event. But my curious side just couldn't hold back with a monstrous 82" display hanging on the wall, clearly running Windows 8.1 from what I could tell. I remembered seeing these same kind of units all over Fox News Channel recently, but never thought they would see the light of day outside of special purpose scenarios.

Well, I was quite wrong. It's entirely fitting that Microsoft would have one of these puppies hanging in their general lobby, but after a colleague and myself played with its various features, the wow factor just popped.

Let me tell you this: touch on a laptop or desktop screen is one thing. But at 82" with multi touch point capabilities in life-size manner, this monitor makes your desktop touchscreen look like child's play.

If you're looking for an all-out in depth review, this is not it. With only about 10-15 mins of hands on time with the device, it was hard to dig too deep. Part of the problem was that I had never experienced touch input on this kind of scale before.

I've worked with devices like SMART Boards when I used to work in IT for education, but even those expensive contraptions don't hold their own against the overall immersive quality of a Perceptive Pixel. The experience was smoother, cleaner, and touch optimized, more so than anything I've ever seen from a SMART Board in the past.

And don't ask me for any hardware specs, inputs, etc from this device. It was wall mounted, looked very expensive, and yet was fully unlocked so we could use Windows 8.1 to our heart's content on it. I was da*n well impressed with what I saw.

And no, not a single Microsoft rep came by to talk with us or show us how to use it. Luckily, we didn't need much help getting to know the device.

What is Perceptive Pixel (and Where Can I Buy One)?

I'll answer the easiest question first: in order to buy one of these massive touch screens, you need to get past some serious gatekeepers at Microsoft. The purchase page on the Perceptive Pixel website lays it out fairly bluntly by recommending you contact your Microsoft account rep, or email the PP team. No purchase links, no Amazon references, nada. This technology is still in its budding phases and I have a good hunch Microsoft only wants serious, hand-picked buyers mounting these on their premises.

Now that the bad news is out of the way, I'd love to explain some basics about this radical new touchscreen TV. Without going into too much history, Jeff Han was the founder of the company of the same namesake as the TV set is currently called. After taking his technology to the technical world via a now famous TED Talk, Microsoft picked up interest in his firm and ended up buying the company outright in July 2012.

There's no hiding that Microsoft had full intention of using the Perceptive Pixel technology to further the touch experience for the then-in-development Windows 8, and more importantly, give Microsoft a leg up in rethinking interactive displays on a bigger scale.

PPI_82_stand_election_model_straight_on_2_small-660x436

CNN and Fox News in the US are already leveraging Perceptive Pixel screens for their programming. Above is a screenshot from an Election 2012 breakdown of Florida's Presidential vote totals. While interactive TV network markups are an obvious scenario for these sets, I can envision healthcare, education, construction, and conference rooms benefitting just as much. (Image Source: Wired.com)

While I was hopeful that the slick screen came pre-built with the necessary computing hardware under the hood, right now at least, it seems this is not the case. This slick screen has the finesse necessary for excellent touch input capabilities, but it still relies on traditional (rather beefy) PC hardware. I can see why Microsoft is taking its time in perfecting this for the mass market; not everyone is like me and would be OK with a loaded workstation PC sitting in their home theater.

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: http://betanews.com/2014/04/10/why-microsofts-perceptive-pixel-is-the-coolest-touch-tv-you-cant-buy-yet/

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