HP’s New Touchscreen: No More Smudges?

HP’s New Touchscreen: No More Smudges?

HP Wall of TouchIn response to the big complaint with touchscreen displays (those pesky fingerprint smudges), HP is demoing a system they’re calling “Wall of Touch.”

It’s a bit of a misnomer, actually, as you don’t have to touch the screen to operate it. Instead, cameras and magnetic strips embedded in the screen detect your hand and sense what you’re going to select before your hand touches the screen. In this way, they hope to largely eliminate the problem of fingerprint smudges.

Phillip McKinney, the Chief Technical Officer and Vice President of HP’s Personal Systems Group explained that the display, which consists of nine 43-inch 1080p LCD panels driven by an HP Z800-class workstation, acts like a large HP TouchSmart PC in terms of function and content.

The system is also currently being demoed at the NBA offices in New York and at the Continental Airlines counter at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport to gauge interest.

McKinney said that, “We’re in the process of building out the next handful of walls as part of supporting our customer base, with the intent that, if there’s enough interest, HP will turn it into a mainstream product.”

McKinney also stated that if this technology is turned into a mainstream product, HP hopes to release it by the first quarter of 2011. This technology will come at a high cost, though; McKinney projected prices to start from “a couple thousand dollars” and run to upwards of $100,000.

The Wall of Touch is an interesting development, but its ramifications run far beyond a piece of HP videoconferencing equipment. This technology could fundamentally change the direction of touchscreen development.

One of the major hurdles to developments like Apple’s rumored iMac Touch is the fingerprints issue. Put simply, nobody wants to spend $1500 dollars on a huge touchscreen device to have the screen get smudged at the slightest use. If this technology can be miniaturized and further developed, whether by HP or by another company, this problem could be solved. Steve Jobs is probably following these developments closely.

See the device in action at the Wall Street Journal (no registration required).

Picture via Tom’s Hardware

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