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January 12, 2009

Microsoft invests in touch technology startup N-trig

Posted by David Hunter at 2:59 PM ET.

Per the N-trig press release:

N-trig, providers of DuoSense™ technology, combining pen and capacitive touch in a single device, announced today that they have completed a fund-raising round of $24 million from investors, including Aurum Ventures, Challenger Ltd., Canaan Partners, Evergreen Venture Partners and Microsoft Corp.

With this new round of funding, N-trig plans to continue working with leading OEMs to create multi-touch notebooks and convertible computers for the mainstream marketplace. The company’s multi-touch technology will enable OEMs and ISVs to build new interface standards for both enterprise and consumer markets.

“With the introduction of multi-touch in Windows 7, integrated with N-trig’s DuoSense technology, our customers will have a new and natural way to interact with their PCs,” said Ian LeGrow, Group Program Manager for Windows Client at Microsoft Corp. “By simulating the way people write and touch naturally, N-trig is helping to make it easier to navigate your PC and enable a new class of Windows experiences.”

There are certainly places for touch technology like handheld devices and kiosks, but does Microsoft really think that this is anything more than a very small niche in the PC market? Here’s a sure sign of cluelessness:

Bill Veghte, senior vice president for Microsoft’s Windows business, says some likely applications are in education, as well as for shared PCs in places like the kitchen, where they can be used for things like recipes, online traffic reports and directions.

For the last 20 years at least, when PC hardware and software companies start saying that their latest brainwave would work great in the kitchen (and even worse, for recipes), you know that they haven’t the faintest idea what it is good for.

Still, since the N-trig technology combines pen with touch, maybe this is the replacement for the tablet PC. Speaking of which, has anyone seen a tablet PC lately?

Filed under Acquisitions, Microsoft, OS - Client, Pen Computing, Technologies, Touch Input, Windows 7

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March 20, 2006

Microsoft teams with Brown Univ. to research pen computing

Posted by David Hunter at 11:08 AM ET.

Press release:

At a joint press conference later today, Brown University and Microsoft Research will unveil plans for the Microsoft Center for Research on Pen-Centric Computing, which will promote and fund research aimed at improving pen-based operation of Tablet PCs, Pocket PCs, Palm Pilot personal digital assistants, electronic whiteboards and conventional desktop computers. The center is the first academic research program in the nation dedicated to pen-centric computing innovation.

Through the three-year joint research and education alliance, Microsoft Research and Brown University will explore and develop new ways to use pen-like styluses to operate computing devices. Under the alliance, Microsoft Research will invest $1.2 million (U.S.) over the next three years.

The more the merrier. Maybe I’ll live long enough to see usable pen and voice input. In the meantime, I’m with Ross Rubin:

… in the graveyard of failed technology products, the pen computing section is overrun with tombstones

Filed under General Business, Microsoft, Microsoft Research, Pen Computing, Technologies, University Relations

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