Touchscreen displays have been given a boost by Windows 7 and its native support for such displays, but there are some drawbacks of having a touchscreen display on your computer, such as a darker picture and a slightly fuzzy image depending on the technology used. However, it seems like those days are numbered, at least if what we've seen from Albatron becomes a widespread technology.
Albatron might not be the most well known company out of Taiwan, but they've been making both televisions and computer components for many years. The company has now developed what they call an Optical Touch Monitor or OTM.
Albatron's OTM uses two CMOS cameras, one located in each of the top corners of the display and the sides, whhilst the bottom of the display is outfitted with reflectors. The OTM interfaces with a computer with a standard USB interface and no special drivers are needed in Windows 7.
The cameras and reflectors are mounted on a tempered glass sheet in front of the actual LCD display. The cameras then pinpoint where your finger is located to an accuracy of about 2mm and the tech means you don't even have to touch the display to be able to move the mouse cursor.
The OTM supports multi-touch and gestures, although how well this works depends on the software implementation. We were shown demos of various applications running in Windows 7 and had a chance to play with both Google Earth and a simple drawing application that has been designed to take advantage of multi-touch and we were very impressed by how well it worked and how sensitive it was.
The unit we got to have a play with was a 42-inch panel, and Albatron informed us that there's no real cost difference between a small or a large panel using this technology, unlike other types of touch screen display technology which gets exponentially more expensive as the screen size increases.
The 42-inch model is likely to end up in shopping centres and museum information systems but Albatron is offering a 21.5-inch consumer model available with either a standard monitor stand, or what Albatron calls a book stand, allowing for the display to be angled towards the user for easier access to the touchscreen interface. The consumer displays are expected to retail for about $450 and offer 1920 x 1080 resolution and DVI input.