Cambridge based Visual Planet are working on an amazing project, which will allow any surface to be transformed into a touchscreen. The thin multitouch film drivers can be used for massive installations, allowing for touchscreens up to 167 inches in size.
The touchfoil technology they have created is based on a transparent nanowire which is capable of sensing finger touch and is even sensitive enough to pick up pressure from the wind. It is able to work on a large variety of different non conductive surfaces, including glass and wood.
With this technology, it is possible to create touchscreens of many sizes, from 30 through to 167 inches in size. However, the larger sizes are limited to single touch, with 60 inches being as large as you can go with true multitouch functionality.
The possible applications for this technology are immense and very exciting, with Visual Planet and its partners already experimenting with a number of different surfaces. Basically, all you need is some kind of display (projection displays also work), and any surface such as a floor, window, or table.
There are obviously a lot of commercial applications for this technology, in places like shopping centres and information centres. In an excerpt from the Visual Planet website: “The touchfoils are touchable through glass whether inside or outside of your premises in a variety of public spaces. They enhance the buying experience. They extend your opening hours. They make people love your business just that little bit more.”
Visual Planet are currently working with developers through an SDK and are trying to expand their user base through Windows 7 compatibility. There is a YouTube channel full of videos from Visual Planet and its partners, with a variety of use cases and different sizes of panels showcased.