Windows 8 and RT's lackluster sales have been attributed, at least in part, to a lack of reasonably priced laptops and desktops with touchscreens. But that obstacle could change. Microsoft-backed Ubi Interactive is taking orders for software that uses the gestural controller Kinect to turn nearly any surface into a touch-sensitive screen.
Ubi co-founder and CEO Anup Chathoth said in a posting this week on the Kinect for Windows blog that, in order to make any flat surface touchable, one must have a computer running his company's software, a video projector and the Kinect for Windows gestural sensor.
He presented a variety of possible use cases for the product. Teachers could use any surface interactively to create an interactive lecture hall, or shoppers could access product on the front of a store window, even after hours.
Recipes, always a potential use case for new informational technologies, could be projected onto countertops so a cook could turn pages, start videos, and retrieve other interactive information without worrying about getting flour on a keyboard -- although the setup sounds like a lot of effort simply to keep things clean. And, for any parents who think they do not have enough handprints on the walls of their children's bedrooms, the technology could be used by kids to play interactive games involving their entire rooms.
Chathoth gives the example of The Walsh Group, a construction company that uses his company's product to demonstrate interactive, 3D blueprints on a wall so that clients can discover what their building will look like. The technology has been used at the Walsh Group's headquarters in Chicago since mid-2012, and Walsh praises its ability to increase client engagement.
Ubi is now taking orders for the software, with four different models. A Basic version offers only one touch point, a display size of 45 inches, comes with only online forum support, and retails for $149. The price for this and the other versions does not include the Kinect for Windows sensor, which is another $250.
A Professional version, priced at $379, also features one touch point, has a display size up to 100 inches and comes with e-mail support. The $799 Business version includes 100-inch display, but comes with two touch points and a shorter e-mail response time for support. The version at $1,499 adds 20 touch points -- which is a lot of fingers -- and phone support. All versions also include a year of free updates, and there are discounts for volume purchases.
While the technology can turn almost any flat surface into a touchscreen, there are some limitations. For instance, reflective surfaces do not work well, apparently because they confuse the sensors.
Ubi Interactive was one of 11 start-ups selected for Microsoft's Kinect Accelerator Program, which the technology giant launched last year to support development of products based around its popular, motion-sensing video game controller. Other start-ups in the program are developing motion-controlled interfaces for surgical equipment or full-body scanning for trying on clothing virtually, among other efforts.
Posted: 2013-08-15 @ 3:41pm PT
A product like this has been around for a while, it's called Touchless Touch. It supports 128 touch points, works with both Kinect and OpenNI/Primesense sensors, works with surfaces over 200" and only costs $59.99. There's even a free trial at http://www.touchlesstouch.com