It ain't what you touch, it's the way that you touch it

by Giles Turnbull

Craig Hockenberry makes some excellent points about the possibilities and pitfalls of using multi-touch technology on a desktop computer:




The iPhone's multi-touch UI works similarly: if you watch people use it, I think you'll see a lot more people working at waist level than at chest level. The only time you need the interface close to your head is when you're enjoying those 3 pt fonts in MobileSafari :-)




He’s not the first person to point out that no-one will want to spend hours reaching up to touch a notebook computer’s screen, but his reminder is useful nonetheless. If multi-touch is indeed coming to our computers, it will have to come via a different route.



There are delicious avenues for exploration, though. Bigger, wider touchpads. Or perhaps, using iPhones and future iPods as wireless touchpads, complete with interactive display elements that marry up with on-screen controls. Or just giving into geek demand and creating a Mac tablet - think iPhone, but stretched until the screen’s about 13 inches big.


6 Comments

Rob Rix
2007-07-16 15:02:19
I'd love a touchpad for my iMac, if it'd let me do two-finger scrolling and pinch zooming and all that. Anybody else think that'd be a wonderful way to play Supreme Commander when they should be working? (:
Jay Elmore
2007-07-16 15:06:27
wireless touchpads, complete with interactive display elements that marry up with on-screen controls. Or just giving into geek demand and creating a Mac tablet - think iPhone, but stretched until the screen's about 13 inches big.


I have been saying this ever since I saw the iPhone keynote.


An iPDA with no phone functionality -- and hopefully a bit cheaper! -- would also be acceptable.

Frank McConnell
2007-07-16 18:31:52
The notion of multi-touch desktop computer screens makes me think of the HP 150 "Touchscreen" computer from 1983. No joke, it was HP's first MS-DOS PC and it had a 9-inch green screen with a grid of infrared LEDs and sensors in front so it could pick up a finger being poked at the screen. The term coined for the inevitable fatigue was "gorilla arm".
Geoff Pado
2007-07-17 00:46:17
Or a table, like Microsoft Surface? *ducks*
Scott
2007-07-17 06:16:44
Jargon file entry for Gorilla Arm
William D. Neumann
2007-07-17 08:07:47
Anyone familiar with the old Fingerworks line of products (particularly the Touchstream keyboard) is already well aware of how a multi-touch interface can benefit the desktop. Of course a bit of MT on the display would be handy too -- I know that there are times when it would be easier for me to tap the screen to manipulate windows or select some items than it is with the mouse (or lack thereof thanks to my Touchstream).