Wacom are planning to deliver capacitive touch panels, similar to that used in the iPhone and iPod touch, in 2009 under the name CapPLUS. Going by the press release, the company is initially planning larger-scale panels than used in the Apple devices, intended for desktop monitors and vertical market equipment such as medical and entertainment. However the CapPLUS specifications confirm that panels from 3-inches to 46-inches will be available.
According to Wacom, their capacitive system – which uses Reversing Ramped Field Capacitive (RRFC) technology – surpasses rival touchscreens in a number of ways. Accuracy problems around the edges of the screen, drifts in calibration and sensitivity to electromagnetic interference have all been bypassed in CapPLUS; it can also be used when wearing surgical or other thin gloves. In addition, a CapPLUS panel can be combined with Wacom’s existing active touchscreen technology offering a choice of finger or stylus control.
The technology could have interesting effects on the Tablet PC and mobile device markets. Currently laptops with capacitive touch panels are rare – the Dell Latitude XT being pretty much the only example – as is seeing larger-scale capacitive panels marketed for individual customers in general. Combining pen and finger input in this way, without having to use a resistive touch panel, could give a huge boost in usability. HP have already confirmed their intention to launch iPhone-style touchscreen technology in notebooks within the next 18-months.