Visualplanet is launching a transparent film called “touchfoil” today that can turn any surface into an interactive touchscreen. The foil can turn large regions of wood, plastic, glass, tabletop, and shop window into giant interactive surfaces that behave just like tablet touchscreens.
The new foil adds multi-touch capability that lets you use familiar gestures such as “pinch” and “zoom”. It uses a set of extremely thin sensing wires in a grid underneath the foil surface. That grid leads to a controller, which processes the signals when someone touches any part of the grid.
Each touchfoil is manufactured to a customer’s exact size requirement. It is thinner than an average business card, making it easy to adapt to a variety of surfaces. The touchfoil can cover surfaces ranging from 30 diagonal inches to 167 inches. But the mullti-touch version can cover surfaces only up to 60 inches.
It uses “projected capacitance” technology, which is the same kind of touch-sensitive technology used in popular tablets such as the iPad.
Touchfoils have been tested in public spaces such as retail shop windows, office reception areas, bus shelters, street kiosks, tourist information booths and even bathroom mirrors. The touchfoil can be shipped easily, since it can be rolled up and placed in a cardboard tube.
Touchfoils include support for Windows 7 gestures and come with a software development kit to enable partners to create applications for it.
Visualplanet was founded in 2001 when managing director Vernon Spencer was looking at an abandoned shop on a busy street in London. He thought it would be nice to find out more about the store, and the idea hit him to do a touchscreen display.
The company began shipping its first single-touchscreen foil in 2004. The company has 30 employees. Rivals include 3M, Elo and NextWindow. Visualplanet is self-funded.