Cool stuff: Perceptive Pixel’s 82-inch multi-touch touchscreen display

Jeff Han, the CEO of Perceptive Pixel, is one of the pioneers of touchscreen displays, having gone public with his touchscreen display technology a year before Apple launched the iPhone in 2007. Now his company has unveiled an 82-inch multitouch touchscreen display that can recognize both finger touches and a stylus. With it, you can put your hand on the display and write on it with the other hand with a stylus, as if you were writing on a piece of paper.

Han showed off the liquid crystal display (LCD) technology at the Emerging Displays Conference in San Jose, Calif. today and also displayed it last week at the Siggraph computer graphics show.

“It’s like a big iPad,” Han said.

The 82-inch display is a follow-up to a 27-inch “projected capacitive” screen introduced in March. The projected capacitive technology is the most popular today, accounting for more than half the touch display market, according to DisplaySearch, which puts on the Emerging Displays Conference. The projected capacitive touch allows for an unlimited number of finger touches to be detected on the screen at once.

“It lets you communicate in a whole new way, using the writing gestures and touch gestures that are much more natural,” Han said.

The 82-inch screen is six inches thick. The screen is aimed at people who have to make presentations, do creative art work or collaborate with lots of users. It’s ideal for “storyboarding” or brainstorming sessions, and is targeted at Perceptive Pixel’s existing user base in defense agencies, military contractors, energy companies, healthcare, broadcasters and finance.

Perceptive Pixel has optically bonded the touch sensor with the display, making the touch much more responsive. The screen can detect touches at 120 hertz, or fast enough to feel instantaneous, Han said. So there are much fewer problems with latency, or delays after a finger touch, and parallax, where you hit the wrong part of the screen. It can even detect a touch from a fingernail. It is resistant to noise, so it is accurate at detection and isn’t fooled by a palm placed on the glass. The display is likely more responsive than an iPad, though Han hasn’t measured the iPad’s speed. It’s also likely to be far more expensive, perhaps $100,000 or so, when it ships in a month or so.

Han is no stranger to cool displays. Back in 2008, he helped CNN create a “Magic Wall” for the presidential election. That allowed commentators to touch an electronic map of the country and touch a state to call up data on how the election results looked in that state.  Han has been a pioneer of multi-touch technology that is starting to become pervasive as a more intuitive way to control a computer.

Han created the touch-sensitive technology to move computing beyond the stale mouse and track balls. Han said back in 2008 that a lot of three-letter agencies in the military and intelligence communities had adopted it. Time named him one of the top 100 people in 2008.

The technology has been compared to Microsoft’s Surface tabletop computing technology, which also uses multi-touch controls. Microsoft said it invented its Surface technology independently as early as 2004, though Han was the first to show off a multi-touch screen at the TED conference in 2006.

Perceptive Pixel has 50 employees and has raised more than $22 million in two rounds. The company has more than 100 customers and more than 100 patents.