If computer touch screen technology is the start of a new revolution, then a small Palmerston North company helped to kick that revolution off. Two years before the launch of the iPhone, Unlimited Realities had already helped to launch finger-touch software onto the world. Now, the company has people swiping and touching on millions of devices around the globe.
Founded in 1996 by Palmerston North brothers David and Russell Brebner, Unlimited Realities is quietly dominating the very competitive interactive software market with their Fingertapps technology.
When computer giant Dell launched the first multi-touch PC, the Dell Studio One 19, in 2008, it included a number of Fingertapps applications and a custom app launcher designed by Unlimited Realities. This year, Unlimited Realities entered a partnership with multi-billion dollar computer chip maker AMD to supply Fingertapps software to many more computer users.
Unlimited Realities have already brought their easy to use, easy on the eye software to Windows tablets. Now they’re taking it to Android tablets. The team is constantly refining its software to create experiences beyond those already on the market. Their smart applications are underpinned with smart technology and beautiful design.
The Brebner brothers and their talented team have a passion for education and believe that computers are for everyone. They’re now developing a new range of software for family users with touch-screen experiences that are rich and rewarding for all ages.
The first sense you develop is touch.
Your sixth sense is intuition.
Now both make sense on your PC.
Just a few years ago, you couldn’t stroke your screen and expect a response.
But a kiwi company has put the ‘personal’ back into ‘PC’s.
What we did is we introduced multi touch to the mainstream. I think that ship is probably like going from black and white television to colour, or from traditional analogue TV to digital.
There’s really 2 aspects to how we do things at Fingertapps. One is the technology smarts underneath the applications that you see, and the other is the Fingertapps applications themselves.
Fingertapps was the world’s first commercially available multi-touch software. Released in 2008, it’s now, quietly, dominating the very competitive interactive software market.
Their major deal with Dell, one of the world’s largest computer makers sees them shipping globally.
Instead of being on 10s and 100s of 1000s devices, now on millions of devices around the world, and that’s the huge game changer for us. That’s really taken us to the next level.
Changing PC gaming was the motivator from the start. People tend to think of the i-Phone for touch screen devices, but actually Fingertapps got there first.
It’s been great for us having Apple kind of popularising this whole concept. Because we’ve been doing it for at least 2 years before the launch of the i-Phone. And then what they’ve done is really driven that market and got everyone excited, but because their …system is closed, we’ve got the opportunity to serve all those other companies that are trying to compete so it’s been great for us.
We’re trying to take things, I guess beyond what we’ve seen in other devices as well, so we’re trying to use effects, in cinema where you'd change the focal depth of the camera so you’re able to focus the viewers on a certain depth plane within the scene.
With funding support from the Ministry of Science and Innovation, Unlimited Realities has kept refining their software to reach new levels…and fans.
We actually do tests on what people feel comfortable doing, dwelling, clicking, dragging and moving your hands.
This new range of software that’s targeted at the families users.
Educations always been I guess really of interest to me in particular, both my parents were teachers. I think the idea that computers are for everyone is something that has been very dear to my heart.
This year Unlimited Realities sealed a partnership with multi billion-dollar chip maker AND to supply Fingertapp software to many more computer producers. With the tablet computers market expected to grow by 10-15 times in the next 5 years, potential feels unlimited.
We’ve already run on Windows tablets and now we can, we’re working on running on android tablets. And in the long term we may well go out and work on i-Pads as well.
The idea is to add that kind of interesting physical response , that ability to directly manipulate the content and graphically rewarding.
BEN WILDE (David and Ben playing on the new Icona):
Yeah I think David’s built some cheats into this.
We think that that can apply to all types of software.
It’s been quite eye opening for me that being ground breaking in the Manawatu was a nice start but onto the global stage, it still stands out. And if you were achieving something that’s amazing locally, it could well be amazing globally and I think Touch is the start of the next revolution.
This is part of the Innovation Stories series produced in partnership with the Ministry of Science and Innovation, it featured on TVNZ 7 during the Spotlight on Science + Innovation month in August 2011.