Microsoft Leads $24M Investment in N-trig’s Pen and Touch Interface

1/12/09Follow @gthuang

N-trig, a computing-interface company based in Kfar Saba, Israel, announced today it has received $24 million in new funding from Microsoft and other investors, including Aurum Ventures, Challenger, Canaan Partners, and Evergreen Venture Partners. The money will help the company perfect its “DuoSense” digitizer, a hardware layer for touch screens that translates both pen- and touch-based input into signals that PC software can use. The deal seems a bit of a departure for Microsoft, which might normally bring such a device technology in-house.

But it looks like a very strategic move for the software giant. “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, Microsoft’s group program manager for Windows Client, in a statement. “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.”

Despite Apple’s lead in multi-touch interfaces with the iPhone, Microsoft has a lot of experience in pen and touch-based interfaces—and a lot more to gain from them. It is also making a large investment in multi-touch and zooming technologies with its “surface computing” graphical user interface, and with projects like Seadragon and PhotoZoom coming out of its Redmond, WA-based LiveLabs. All in all, it makes sense for Microsoft to invest in a company that could help bring those kinds of technologies to the laptop and tablet PC market—without having to integrate the company into the Redmond machine.

N-trig was founded in 1999. Its touch technology is currently used in Dell’s Latitude XT tablet computer and HP’s TouchSmart tx2 laptop. The company says it plans to announce more deals like those in the coming year.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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