Touchscreen technology isn't really all that new, but the popularity of Apple's iPhone has whetted the public's appetite for putting their fingers on the screen and doing things. But the technology that makes tiny phone screens react to touch would be prohibitively expensive on a screen even as large a UMPC, never mind the typical desktop's widescreen. HP and Microsoft use a different technology to track the movements of your fingers on a screen, and HP is planning on offering multiple touchscreen products within a year and a half. Sweet.
HP’s personal computer and Microsoft Surface Table and Touch Wall rely on cameras built into the four corners of the monitors to make their touch screens react. These screens generally use LEDs to shine light across the surface areas. When a finger interrupts that light pattern, the cameras sense where the finger (or fingers) are based upon how the light scatters and react accordingly, all without the need for either a network of chips underneath the screen or pressure-sensitive films.
But between the large-screen touch offerings and the existing capacitive screens on cell phones, notebooks and tablets have languished, with most using resistive screens, which measure touch via pressure applied using a stylus or fingertip. Many tablet and laptop makers have capacitive screens in their product road maps, but in order to really drive adoption, they’ll need to incorporate applications that take advantage of touch.
The market for laptops with touchcreens is probably the ripest one for HP, as people are accustomed to using touchpads and the like with them already. On a dedicated desktop, it will take a lot of extra utility to overcome the mouse as the pointer of choice. But we all often point at our computer, even if it's only one finger, and yell at it too. It's almost inevitable that we'll eventually get rid of the middleman -- the mouse --altogether.