With all the scrutiny, fanfare and short-minded bluster directed at the PC-touch saviors - i.e. Uni-Pixel (UNXL), Carclo (GM:CCEGF) and Atmel (ATML) - it seems investors are totally missing the "crumbs" that Neonode (NEON) is leaving.
On NEON's recent (3/14) 4Q earnings conference call (and in the press release), NEON indicated its optical touch technology (MultiSensing) is basically ready for 10-finger touch (Windows 8 only requires 5 fingers) and flush-bezel designs. Not only is NEON working with Tier One PC OEMs toward laptop design wins, but they are also collaborating with the top PC semiconductor suppliers on reference designs.
However, even more recently, NEON finally made explicit confirmation (albeit without a whisper of publicity) of their Windows 8 compliance, on a new "Laptop PC" webpage within their corporate website.
On their site, NEON now specifically states that their optical touch technology can support 5 point true-touch, is Windows 8 compliant, and has a system cost of less than $0.65 per diagonal inch (Synaptics and Alps should watch out, as NEON's <$0.65/Inch cost includes the touchpad).
While I cannot fathom why NEON would not press-release this massively disruptive development, and rather chose to bury it on their website ... there is no question that NEON is now in the Windows 8 Laptop mix, and should be mentioned in the same breath as the glitterati on the "ITO-alternative" red carpet (UniPixel, Atmel, and Carclo).
To put NEON'S disruptive system cost (i.e. <$0.65 per diagonal inch) into perspective, current ITO-based capacitive sensors cost OEMs between $70-$100 per Windows laptop, while NEON's licensees can do it for less than $10, and can throw in a touchpad as well.
While UNXL's UniBoss (system cost is above $20) and Atmel/Carclo Xsense (more pricey than Uni-Boss) are clearly more expensive than NEON's MultiSensing, I would concede their retrofit status affords them an "easier upgrade" premium. More significantly, considering that supply of both Uni-Boss and Xsense will clearly not sate the likely hyperbolic demand for Windows-8 compliant touch sensors, there will be plenty of margin and demand for non-ITO sensor-suppliers to spread around through 2014 (at the earliest).
As a reminder, global laptop unit sales were about 194M (down about -4.5% YoY) in 2012, with Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) at 58.1M, Lenovo at 52.5M, Dell (DELL) at 38.7M, Acer at 33.5M, and Asustek (2357.TW) at 24.1M. Unless an apocalypse occurs, there is no way that Uni-Boss and Xsense could adequately scratch all of the itches at DELL, Asus, etc.
Meanwhile, with endless supplies of commodity LEDs (like sand), Texas Instruments (TXN) optical touch controllers, and plastic light guides ... I have to think that Neonode's lowest cost, and now Windows-8 compliant, optical touch solution will be getting some serious Tier-One consideration in the immediate term.