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A Turning Point for Touch Screens, Says the NYT

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the they-sure-make-gps-devices-handier dept.

Displays 129

The New York Times has a story up on the suddenly brisk market for touch screens and the devices which can make use of them, which it says "has grown quietly for years, both in commercial applications and in consumer devices." Besides the obvious (the iPhone, and Apple's use of multi-touch generally), the article also mentions the recent inclusion of Israeli company N-Trig's version of multi-touch technology in a Dell notebook computer, and some of the other places you can expect to see touchscreens instead of display-only ones in the near future — if the price drops quickly enough.

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129 comments

M$ Advertisment. (1, Troll)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724185)

Now that multitouch is available from M$, we hear that it's cool, that's quite a turnaround but only from the M$ dominated technical press. Sure, there was a lot of hype about a very late to the party M$ table with second rate multitouch but then the negative press against iPhone has been constant and deafining. Most of it was recycled talking points from the effort to kill Palm, RIM and other worthy competitors. Yes, practical touch computing is that old and the screens have been as cheap as a $40 Zire. Yes, multitouch is a nice wrinkle on it. No, it does not solve the primary problem with tablet computers - they see where your hand rests as input that scrwes up handwringing recognition. It's nice to finally see a mainstream review that does not complain about iPhone in one way or another, but it the real difference is that it's from Dell on Vista. I'm not impressed.

Re:M$ Advertisment. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724211)

Awwww, come on dude, how else are they supposed to sell Vista except follow in Apple's footsteps again and pretend XP does not have the power to do multitouch? Vista's like that space age OS you've been waiting for because you were afraid owning a Mac would make you gay. Pay no attention to the penguin telling you you could have it without Vista!

Re:M$ Advertisment. (-1, Troll)

infaustus (936456) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724455)

Owning a mac will make you gay. If you install linux, you'll never get laid again, but at least you won't have burly men raping your ass.

Re:M$ Advertisment. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724521)

Do you *promise* men will fuck me in the ass if I get an Apple? It's really not worth the price otherwise...

What happens if I install Linux onto the Apple, does that void the ass raping clause?

Gaming Slashdot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724235)

TNAA Strikes Again! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24726171)

Do you hate twitter? Do you loath Slashdot? Are you a total fuckwad? Then join the Twitter Negation Association of America (TNAA) and help ruin Slashdot. How does it work? Easy:

  • Accuse everone of being twitter. Did they say "M$" or "Windoze"? It's gotta be twitter.
  • Sign up lots of accounts to accuse twitter of the same. Hypocrisy? No, Genius! Be sure to mod up anything derogatory and genreally midless.
  • Be an ass. This should come naturally.

The point is to increase noise to signal ratios. Join today!

Ripe for failure (0, Offtopic)

westbake (1275576) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724237)

UAC: You can not make this thumbnail bigger because the rights holder says you can't. Cancel or Allow?

Re:Your sig (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724259)

I am a name troll of Westlake. Visit my homepage to learn why.

you are a what of whom? are you kidding me?

Re:Ripe for failure (0, Offtopic)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724543)

UAC: You can not make this thumbnail bigger because the rights holder says you can't. Cancel or Allow?

Cancel or allow what? It was an error message, not a warning with confirmation. If you really insist on insulting Vista, at least do it right.

Re:Ripe for failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724553)

Anyone posting or moderating in this thread should be aware that twitter and "westbake" are the same person [slashdot.org] .

Wow. Completely out of touch (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24725051)

we hear that it's cool, that's quite a turnaround but only from the M$ dominated technical press.

I'm not sure what technical press you have been reading lately. Multitouch was cool the day the iPhone first shipped.

Sure, there was a lot of hype about a very late to the party M$ table with second rate multitouch

You don't even know what this "M$ table" with "second rate" multitouch is, do you?

the negative press against iPhone has been constant and deafining

Most of the negative press started the day Apple released the 3G, which has a lot of problems. What, are you saying that ArsTechnica and every other tech rag out there that's having trouble with the 3G is somehow bent on a campaign of negative press?

And previously, the negative press was geared mostly towards the lack of carrier choices (let me guess, you work for AT&T or something?) and wireless speed. This is the "Jesus Phone", it sold millions of units in the first few months. What the hell are you talking about?

Most of it was recycled talking points from the effort to kill Palm, RIM and other worthy competitors.

Oh, yes. You are implying that this is a Microsoft conspiracy. Holy smokes.

Yes, practical touch computing is that old and the screens have been as cheap as a $40 Zire.

That's not multitouch, those are pressure-sensitive LCDs. How out of touch can you be here? Are you even for real?

Yes, multitouch is a nice wrinkle on it.

Haha, no, it's not a nice "wrinkle", it's a revolutionary step upwards from LCDs. WTF?

No, it does not solve the primary problem with tablet computers - they see where your hand rests

You have never used a tablet PC, have you?

It's nice to finally see a mainstream review that does not complain about iPhone in one way or another

Is it really? Now you're just karma whoring, aren't you? Oh yes [slashdot.org] . But now you're suddenly concerned about poor Apple, the iPhone, its alleged negative press and the "M$" factor? Please... Here's another one [slashdot.org] . Yeah, you sure like Apple.

but it the real difference is that it's from Dell on Vista.

Ah, that's where you should have started.

I'm not impressed.

All things considered, that's quite the understatement.

First? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724195)

Oye Vey

Is that how the iPhone works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724197)

Besides the obvious (the iPhone, and Apple's use of multi-touch generally)

I've been trying to jam punch cards into my iPhone.

Easy to Understand (1, Funny)

Erris (531066) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724223)

I've been trying to jam punch cards into my iPhone

That's natural, after it ate your credit card.

twitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724605)

you already posted [slashdot.org] in this article with two accounts, please limit yourself to one account per story and don't reply to yourself pretending to be someone else.

If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (4, Interesting)

predder (1168803) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724219)

Forget the optimus, what about a touch screen keyboard? Sure, there's no feedback (yet) but the user could change the input style at will, using it as a mouse/tablet/music mixing device etc.

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724257)

art lebedev actually has a concept of one, the optimus tactus. Check it out - http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus-tactus/

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (1)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724359)

Okay, that's pretty damn neat. I'm not sure I'd really want a 'video mode', but the customizable keyboard/input device would be handy. It would be an adjustment, not having keys that depress, but not too big of one.

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24726161)

The last image shows the drawbacks. Hot pseudolesbian action on your keyboard and no boss key...

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (1)

kryogen1x (838672) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724301)

I wouldn't want it. It's nice to have the tactile feedback. Heck, I sometimes even miss the audible feedback from typing on a Model M keyboard.

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724881)

i guess you could glue on another keyboard, like they did for the zx81, but a plexiglas one.

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (1)

Kz (4332) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725503)

Feedback is really important, but maybe it can be faked.

when i first tried an early iPod (on a store) i wasn't sure if the wheel physically turned or not. it took me several seconds to realize it was only because of the audio feedback, and that wasn't through the earphones, but on a small piezo speaker on the device itself.

it would be interesting to add a small vibrator under a 'screen keyboard', to and have it do a slight 'tick' on each keypress. your fingers would definitely get it, so maybe it would help with the typing experience.

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#24726275)

Feedback is really important, but maybe it can be faked.

Of course feedback can be faked ... ask any woman.

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (2, Insightful)

hkz (1266066) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724355)

There's the Optimus Tactus [artlebedev.com] concept, which is exactly that: a programmable surface that can be any keyboard (or even input device) you want.

In my opinion the real breakthrough for that class of device is going to come when they get haptic feedback to work with multitouch screens. Haptic feedback is when you literally "feel" the virtual buttons. There are some promising advances there.

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (1)

pcolaman (1208838) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724647)

Optimus Tactus will need to resurrect Optimus Prime when the spores turn everyone red.

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725057)

In my opinion, the breakthrough will come once we get transparent hands, not before. Until then, our fingers are going to cover up whatever is being displayed, making them ill suited for more than casual input.

As for the original submission, the author seems to forget that there's a vast difference between in-hand devices and larger ones. For one thing, you don't get gorilla arm syndrome from a handheld device. Lumping the two together doesn't work. Increased sales for one type doesn't imply anything for the other type.

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725675)

Does your fixed layout keyboard give you problems?

A programmable surface with decent tactile feedback is purely additive to a keyboard. You can have a normal keyboard, plus a keyboard for Photoshop (if you want it), plus a keyboard for Quake (if you want it), plus a keyboard for ... (if you want it).

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#24726231)

Does your fixed layout keyboard give you problems?

No, and that's exactly my point -- a keyboard works because it's (a) static, and (b) I do not look at it.
Input you have to look at will only work for sporadic input, because otherwise your hands are going to be in the way.

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#24726371)

There is nothing preventing you from learning the layouts presented by a programmable keyboard. You might even program it to only ever present a single layout.

Granted, this makes the advantages smaller, but if there was no decrease in use as a normal keyboard (it is likely there would be) and the increase in cost was small (it would likely be large), the fact that the keyboard was programmable would not prevent you from using it just like you use a static keyboard.

Basically, you stated that your problem is that the keyboard could be dynamic; this is not an issue, as the dynamic keyboard could surely be used in a static manner. Your problem is that you don't want the decrease in tactile feel and increase in price.

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724537)

And your typing rate will get down considerably, but then you will at least not have to wait for Slashdot to allow you to post your new message.

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724635)

Close. For most touch screen type of thing you really need a touch screen mouse as a tablet - like an overgrown synaptics pad, but with the intelligence of a touch screen.
Move you fingers on the pad and watch the screen. That should be intuitive enough. Sort of thing you would use for media centres etc.

Re:If sci fi movies are anything to go by.. (2, Interesting)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724749)

... and yet people say the iPhone sucks without even knowing what it can do.

I'm surprised that consumers want them... (5, Informative)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724245)

I was the design manager on Logitech's Harmony One remote and I fought for a touch screen for the programmable controls - in the past these were physical buttons beside the different controls on the remote. Implementing physical buttons close to an LCD are very difficult to implement correctly. I thought the touch panel would improve the quality of the product and give it much cleaner look to the overall product.

I was half right - it is a gorgeous remote but the touch panel just doesn't match the rest of the remote and the time taken in the mechanical design to product an interface that you don't have to look down at to use. Coupled with the cost of the capacitive touch panel (about 10x what it would cost for poly dome and plastic/elastomer buttons) it really isn't worth it.

I'm very unimpressed with the touch panel for typing on the iPhone and iPod touch so I'm going to be watching to see how companies design their user interfaces to give users as positive an interface as they would have with buttons.

If it's not done well, then I would expect a backlash against touch panels by consumers.

myke

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724389)

I have a Razr (original model) and find it annoying that it's far too easy to unintentionally change settings when picking the thing out of its holster. More than once I've accidentally turned off the ringer or enabled speakerphone - grrr.

The Samsung Instinct looks interesting and has a vibration feature to acknowledge button-presses, but that's got to be hard on the battery life.

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (1)

sam0737 (648914) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724429)

Totally agree.

I did one universe touch screen remote control as a school project. It's done by laying a Palm touchscreen on top of a Dot Matrix LCD. Although it looks cool and earn me a A+, but practically it inherits the same problem exactly like what you have describe - touch feedback.

I hope some day someone could invent an touch interface with dynamic texture for touch, just like the dot on the F and J key. I imagine it could be done by micro-heater (like those used in inkjet) which heat up a small bubble under a membrane on the touch interface.

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724781)

I hope some day someone could invent an touch interface with dynamic texture for touch, just like the dot on the F and J key. I imagine it could be done by micro-heater (like those used in inkjet) which heat up a small bubble under a membrane on the touch interface.

Wasn't there a story on something like this on slashdot? It was done by using electricity, something like zapping your finger when it crossed a "rough patch". I can not find the story right now.

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (5, Interesting)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724445)

I'm very unimpressed with the touch panel for typing on the iPhone and iPod touch

Hmm, do you type on one of those regularly?

Yes, the physical typing experience on iPhone is pretty poor, but I find that the auto correction software pretty much makes up for it. I can type just about as fast on iPhone as on another small keyboard with physical buttons, and even though I make horrible typing errors it fixes them on the fly perfectly almost every time. You just have to trust it, just like it says in the video. On the other hand I do sometimes type in another language which is not supported by iphone (Serbian) and the result is a mess. But as long as you are typing regular text (not a lot of names or code or something) in a supported language, the software can go a long way to make use of it on a daily basis fairly bearable. On the other hand, there are considerable advantages in size, weight, flexibility etc in having the keyboard on the screen as needed so perhaps it's worth getting used to it.

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (1)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724693)

Amazingly, this silly problem is solved as soon as soon as they implement widescreen texting like the one in the browser.

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24725635)

Yes, the physical typing experience on iPhone is pretty poor, but I find that the auto correction software pretty much makes up for it.

So giw di tiy tyrb ib tgis autocorrectuib feayiutr?

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 5 years ago | (#24726147)

The auto correction software is half the problem on the iPhone. It is as though it was only ever intended to be used to type URLs and search strings. Something as long as this post is painful to type on the iPhone.

I still curse them for not having the bluetooth keyboard profile. Asenine.

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (4, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724557)

And whenever there is a touch panel it will also be clogged by the dirty fingers people have.

Just take a look at some people's keyboards where a large amount of brownish residue of unknown origin is accumulated.

Many remotes also have an accumulation of some residue that you probably don't want to examine further, and by having a touch display you will get that residue even more visible.

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (2, Insightful)

Ross D Anderson (1020653) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724827)

A touch screen is much easier to keep clean, not least because it's completely flat and has no grooves etc. for brownish residue to get caught in. Also people with iPhones and stuff that I've seen tend to keep the screen clean as a matter of pride (and the fact they've spent a small fortune on the device they want to keep it nice).

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 5 years ago | (#24726067)

And whenever there is a touch panel it will also be clogged by the dirty fingers people have. Just take a look at some people's keyboards where a large amount of brownish residue of unknown origin is accumulated. Many remotes also have an accumulation of some residue that you probably don't want to examine further, and by having a touch display you will get that residue even more visible.

While mostly true, the major point that you are missing is is that touch screens, unlike keyboards and remotes, are easily cleanable to a mostly presentable state. People with glasses probably already know the drill.

  1. Pick up glasses
  2. Huff on the glass/plastic (optional)
  3. Rub with excess T-Shirt
  4. Repeat as needed

:%s/glasses/device with touch screen

If you're at a public terminal and have disinfecting wipes, a touchscreen might actually be preferable, as strange as that sounds.

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 5 years ago | (#24726629)

ah but at least with a touch screen it's easy to clean.... keyboards and remotes are impossible to clean, so if that's your concern you should go with the touch screen, just wipe it on your pant leg every so often.

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (2, Informative)

pcolaman (1208838) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724655)

Have the Harmony 880 and find that the physical buttons to the sides of the LCD are far superior for usability IMO. Being able to feel where the buttons are (there is a distinct ridge-like feeling when you move your finger from one button to another that is adjacent) make the remote easy to use when the lights are dimmed (common when watching DVD movies or a movie on TV).

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724767)

for me,w hat would be worth it is context driven menus and buttons on say, somethign similar to a mousepad. I have a physical device i push around to move a cursor, but if i want to do something like, switch tools in Photoshop, I'd just smack the right button on the mousepad and go on my merry way.

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24725597)

We are putting touch panels in machines for about 10+ years now and there seems to be an improvement in quality.Early on you could count on a failure rate of about 5% per year.
Add to this that after 5 min of use the it's getting hard to see under the smudges fingers left and the fact that it will cost you a hand and a leg to get one replaced and I really don't think this is ready for regular use.
POS and stuff like that - sure.

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725615)

The problem with a touch screen on a remote control, although it looks very cool, is that it's just not very usable. Most interaction with a remote (after the first week or two) is carried out without even looking at it. The locations of the buttons are mostly memorised, but you still need to feel where the buttons are in order to press them accurately. I've searched long and hard for a high-end universal remote control with a sensible button layout, which still looks cool, but isn't compromised by the inclusion of a touch screen.

The iPhone suffers from the same problem, to a certain extent. But with phones there is a clear choice. You can have any two out of these three things:-

  1. A large screen for web browsing and video.
  2. A decent tactile keyboard built in.
  3. A compact, slim and cool-looking device.

For most consumers, 1 and 3 are the most important, and it's worth sacrificing 2 for that (apart from those people who don't care about any of the above and just want a phone, of course). For business users, 2 is often more important, so you lose 1 (the Crackberry and clones).

Personally I love almost everything about the iPhone, but I won't buy one with the whole Apple lock-in thing. Oh, and that crappy camera that would be more at home on a 5 year old budget cellphone doesn't help!

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (1)

Kreisler (992371) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725679)

The biggest stumbling block seems to be the size of the hand. There's a limit to how small a keyboard can be, so miniaturization may rely on voice recognition or some other input scheme.

Re:I'm surprised that consumers want them... (1)

bockelboy (824282) | more than 5 years ago | (#24726499)

Actually, I think the touch-screen approach works for a lot of the functions of the iPhone - the trick is that you want to be looking at it when operating it.

On the remote control, however, you usually memorize the locations of everything the first week and don't look at it after that.

That said, the lower-end harmony remotes absolutely rock.

Exciting news, but (2, Interesting)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724345)

what's always bothered me about touchscreen technology is the screen getting dirty. It annoys me when my non-touch monitor gets smudges as it is. I freely admit, however, that I have very little direct experience with touchscreens and perhaps these new ones (iPhone, etc) have some nifty way of dealing with that.

Re:Exciting news, but (1)

Kopiok (898028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724349)

I can tell you from experience that they do not. I'm always wiping the screen of my Voyager after using it. >_

Re:Exciting news, but (1)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724367)

Figures. I suppose that as long as there's a quick and easy way to disable it/put it in cleaning mode so that you can wipe it down it wouldn't be too bad.

Re:Exciting news, but (1)

Kopiok (898028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724385)

I hit the lock button real quick. It's right on the side. That works for phones, but I'm not sure if something like a Tablet or other large screen device would have something like that.

Re:Exciting news, but (1)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724425)

My only touchscreen experience of any length is with an eBookwise eBook Reader [ebookwise.com] . It doesn't have a boot process or anything tedious like that, so I just switch it off, clean, turn it back on. I'm guessing a tablet/subnotebook sort of device would not be able to do that.

Re:Exciting news, but (1)

dainichi (1181931) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724795)

sure, just put it into standby mode.

Re:Exciting news, but (2, Informative)

Starayo (989319) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724507)

The iPhone's screen looks horrible after using it for a few moments - I bought a matte screen protector that reduces glare and also smudging. Now It's hardly noticeable.

Customers shouldn't have to rely on a third party addition for this though.

Re:Exciting news, but (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725015)

My only experience with the iPhone is the pubic unit in the local stores -- full of grease from all sorts of people, but when the screen is on, you don't notice a thing. Perhaps it's a different case outside in bright sunlight -- I don't know.

A little too much (3, Insightful)

LM741N (258038) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724387)

Over the years I think I've touched my screen a little too much.

Seriously, regarding LCD reliability- has anyone studied it after thousands of touches, some low pressure, some higher pressure? When I touch my LCD screen, it turns dark around my finger. Doesn't look good to me.

Re:A little too much (2, Informative)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724691)

That happens on my laptop, but it doesn't on my iPhone, which has a rigid glass screen that protects the LCD part from fingertip pressure. Unfortunately, not from fingerprints or smudges, though.

Re:A little too much (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 5 years ago | (#24726601)

It can damage the screen, as a lot of laptops from around the P3 era show pressure marks on the screen from where the keyboard presses against the screen when the lid is closed. It seems that laptop manufacturers have solved this issue as newer laptops don't seem to have this problem.

How will this effect porn? (4, Funny)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724433)

Touch screens should re-vitalize computer based porn. Think of the possibilities.

Re:How will this effect porn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724497)

Your screen would get all sticky ;)

Re:How will this effect porn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724527)

Touch screens should re-vitalize computer based porn. Think of the possibilities.

The old Mac "game" from the 80's, MacPlaymate would easily adapt to a touch interface.
I can't imagine actually buying it to use it, but it would make a great gag gift.

There are some potential problems with access to adult content in general though.
Screen vendors might need to do some testing to see if some "lubricants" would cause screen damage, and educate users on how to safely clean screens if such things get on them.

Re:How will this effect porn? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724567)

That will be something to see on CSI [imdb.com] .

The DS? (5, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724439)

I imagine that the first prolonged, day-to-day experience with a touchscreen for a lot of people would be the Nintendo DS. It's got a user base a lot larger, and demographically wider, than that of the iPhone. This isn't to knock Apple's tech and design achievements with that device and their trackpads, but I think the DS was probably pivotal in getting the general public used to operating devices with purely virtual buttons.

Uh, no, much older than that: Palm Pilot (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724653)

'nuff said. There were millions sold, and people were using them quite a lot, even for reading ebooks (for example).

Re:Uh, no, much older than that: Palm Pilot (2, Interesting)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724711)

I guess I'm stuck in my mindset. I can still only see the touch screen as a valid method of data input in a few limited capacities. I see it as a nice addition to the POS systems, gaming systems, phones, and maybe some other small consumer gadgets.

I can't envision me, personally, wanting to code using the screen. I can see me wanting to navigate a GPS unit or a building directory with one.

Re:Uh, no, much older than that: Palm Pilot (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724791)

I agree with you, I don't find touchscreens too useful, either. The trend of installing touchscreens in the Eee PCs, for example, leaves me cold and puzzled.

Re:The DS? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725585)

Yeah, I wanted to say Nintendo DS as well (started by tagging the article accordingly) but first I wanted to look around for similar posts from others.

In my opinion it was the DS which started the lets-put-touchscreens-everywhere.

Before the DS and at launch many considered it a failure, afterward everyone wanted to join.

iPhone gets way to much credit, sure it may be one of the first units with multitouch and a decent interface making use of it but that's all. It's not the-thing-which-started-touchscreens.

Also after the DS, but still early, there was the Cowon D2 which was the first MP3-player with touchscreen (which in my thoughts seems like a very bad idea since it make it hard to use it while in your pocket, bag, while running, riding your bike, or whatever.)

Blind Biker have a point regarding PDAs, but haven't it always been "lets emulate writing" there compared to "lets design an interface around a touchscreen"?

Not a single mention of the DS... (5, Insightful)

distantbody (852269) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724467)

More innovative than the iPhone and yet they didn't even mention it in the article...

Re:Not a single mention of the DS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724971)

The Ninitendo DS is a small (unintentional?) replica of terminals used at some very secret (yeah, sure) military complexes in Sweden.

These terminals use two full size, amber monochrome, cathode tube monitors. One standing and one laying flat. The flat one with it's surface leveled with the table top and layered by a thin metal mesh. The monitor laying down is the only mean of input for the terminal. This beuty is enclosed in a Star Treck like desk, made in dark brown and orange (lika Fiskars famous scissors [wikipedia.org] ) plastic (propably reinforced with sawdust, by the feel of it).

By the look of them, I would guess they where made by DATASAAB [wikipedia.org] in the 60's. I saw them in use in the early 90's and they where perfect for their tasks.

Re:Not a single mention of the DS... (1)

mk2mark (1144731) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725039)

It's because it's not as "supercool" according to Geoff Walker, global director of product management at Tyco Electronicsâ(TM).

The main problem with touch screens is while they're supercool, they're a pain to use. Holding my hand up to a screen for a whole day at work is probably impossible, certainly not progress in terms of input. One constraint I see is your hands have to be on the desk, and if you bring the screen down there you've other problems to do with eye strain etc. For this reason, my opinion is touchscreens are never going to work as a primary input. Maybe invent a mouse with an additional cursor attached to your thumb that you can move around independently so you can have that all-important iphone pinch zoom feature?

Re:Not a single mention of the DS... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725607)

There have been prototype designs where you have a screen in front facing your face and then the touch sensetive part on the back of the device. This way you can still press virtual buttons, move around or whatever using your finger tips but more comfortable and on the back of the device and still not cover any of the screen in the front.

A brilliant idea I must say.

Re:Not a single mention of the DS... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725595)

They have short memory ;)

bad idea (-1, Flamebait)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724473)

I think they need to figure out that NOBODY LIKES TOUCHSCREENS! You'll never, ever, ever beat the precision of an optical or laser mouse with your big fat fingers and nobody wants to clean their monitor every hour from fingerprints and smudges. With that little snafoo, I hope nobody in their right mind invests in touchscreen technology.

Re:bad idea (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724581)

I have only one reasonable application where it may be useful, and that is in info kiosks like the ones you can find at malls and in some shops like Barnes&Noble.

Some kid's games may also benefit from the touch screen, but that's a different issue. And for kids you will need a computer resilient against just about anything a kid can do to the computer which means that it has to be able to withstand being run over by a truck or a tank and still have a working touchscreen.

But as you say - the need for precision makes touchscreens very inconvenient. That's why most PDA:s have a pen for input control.

Re:bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724687)

I guess you never heard of the Nintendo DS.

Re:bad idea (2, Insightful)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725227)

All our POS products are based on touchscreen technology. And they work very well.

Of course, on modern POS you don't type in numbers as you used to do in yesteryear - that's why we have barcodes and more recently RFID.

Touchscreens allow you to offer a fully dynamic user interface that adopts to the current situation. It work wells, as long as you do not need to do any sort of more-than-occasional data entry.

Re:bad idea (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725621)

In RTSs a touchscreen will beat a mouse any day :D

Probably also in general OS usage.

Your point may be valid for FPSs but Metroid on the DS works decent using the touchscreen to shoot and the arrow keys for moving around. Though the Wii controller are probably even better since you don't cover your screen any more.

I guess a "light pen" would work, something you could use at a small distance.

Re:bad idea (2, Funny)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725727)

I think they need to figure out that NOBODY LIKES TOUCHSCREENS!

Yeah? I think you need to figure out that NOT EVERYONE IS YOU!

Re:bad idea (3, Interesting)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725831)

I think you are right, but for the wrong reasons. The same things applies to voice recognition, it will never replace keyboards in the office.
How fatiguing and tedious would it be to talk to your computer all day? Imagine how noisy the office would be.
Likewise, how about using a touchscreen all day? Your arm would feel like it was ready to fall off. Like it or not, a mouse takes little physical effort and lends itself to the sitting position.

pr0n (3, Funny)

binaryseraph (955557) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724491)

And now pornography has a whole new platform to work with. awesome.

My Zaurus is ahead if the times (2, Interesting)

A Wise Guy (1006169) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724587)

My beloved zaurus is ahead of the current times. It runs linux xfce as well as other rom images ranging from debian to kde or qtopias flavor. It has a Touchscreen. If configured properly, It has all the desktop applications available for it as well as including game emulators. My Current pocket size zaurus has over 64gb diskspace (4gb sd not included). It stores well over Tons of hours of my music cd collection as well as tons of hours of my HD home movies converted easily with avidemux from a xacti high definition hd 1000. iphone is junk! Zaurus has had voice over ip since it's roots. The touchscreen is a must for any screen! It is still well ahead of the current times even for the next 10 years. Too bad sharp discontinued it. Touchscreen is the way of the future!

Re:My Zaurus is ahead if the times (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725651)

lol, some mac fanatic moderated your very informative post flamebait just because you told the truth (your Linux based Zaurus let you run everything and iPhone tries to prevent you from running everything =P)

Crippled and super expensive, the way of Apple.

Re:My Zaurus is ahead if the times (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725743)

My beloved zaurus is ahead of the current times.

Yup, probably a little too far ahead. Linux? Avidemux? I'm happy for you that you've found such a great device, but it's certainly not for everyone.

Maybe that's what the guy who modded you down should have said instead of abusing the moderation system.

Re:My Zaurus is ahead if the times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24725827)

What kind of idiot mods me down? DAMN! It's soo Hard to guess! Steve? hmmm.

What Apple should do. (4, Interesting)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724625)

Right, so here's my incredibly important opinion that you must agree with. Apple implemented this nifty multi-touch thing on the iPhone (and consequently on the iPod Touch). What they need to do now is extend this multi-touch thing to the computers as well. Heck, if I can see some darn thing on the screen and I want to drag it around or whatever, why shouldn't I be able to just reach out and do that? There should still be a keyboard and a rat for now. Mouse pads should also incorporate multi-touch. I think the keys on the keyboard should all have tiny displays embedded in them that can display any character. Thus, when you switch languages, the keyboard mapping will change and the keys themselves will show what character they'll type. Push Ctrl, Alt, Fn, Open-Apple, Shift, or whatever, and the keys will immediately change to reflect the characters that will be typed. Thus, lowercase letters will be displayed until Shift is held down, at which point they'll change to uppercase and the number keys will change to the symbols on those same keys. Hit Caps Lock and the appropriate behavior will take place. No more people getting confused why their password isn't being accepted or pushing all kinds of wrong keys looking for that dang ñ key when you're typing in Spanish or whatever. Simple. So, where were we? Oh yeah. Take these computers to the next level. Multi-touch on all computer displays and mouse pads. Keyboards where individual keys display what they will do. And while we're at it, how about a non-broken X implementation like there used to be in Tiger?!?

Re:What Apple should do. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24726501)

so this:

http://windowsvistablog.com/blogs/windowsvista/archive/2008/05/27/microsoft-demonstrates-multi-touch.aspx

Point Of Sale systems (3, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724661)

Anyone doing outsourced IT work will tell you that Elo brand touch screens are very much alive in the POS (point of sale) market. This article is way out of touch with reality. Where's the "BS" tag when we need it?

Re:Point Of Sale systems (1)

Naznarreb (1274908) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724919)

I second that. I do tier 1 stuff for a large national grocery chain, and ELO brand screens are in all of our pharmacies, fuel center POS and self check out registers. Not to knock the market share of the DS, but I'll bet that way more people have used a touch screen self check out register than played extensively with a DS

iphone isn't a touch only device. (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724715)

it still has a freaking BUTTON you need to use all the time. wtf is the point please?

The point is... (1)

Fross (83754) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725371)

to provide the entire interface to the application; the button simply works as an "exit application" button.

US Olympic Basketball Gold-Waste your mod points! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24724873)

Spanish Olympic Basketball Team Training Regimen:

1) Practice falling
2) Practice Crying
3) Foul Shots
4) Practice finger rolls from about six feet out (in the hopes of getting fouled)
5) Practice getting fouled
6) Assassinate LeBron James
7) Bribe Refs
...
8) Losing, despite all our efforts to the contrary:

Priceless.

EeePC sized device with touchpad keyboard (1)

BigDXLT (1218924) | more than 5 years ago | (#24724967)

Would make it a good little e-book if you wanted too, and the primary display doesn't get icky finger prints. The keyboard, or secondary screen, could have a texturized surface so that the "keys" have a bit of feel to them too, and maybe use e-ink for battery life.

Touch Screens Are Already Surpassed (1)

Slugster (635830) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725045)

Touch-screens are generally not that useful for general computing, outside of graphic design work (such as with the Wacom Cintiq drawing screens: http://www.wacom.com/cintiq/index.cfm [wacom.com] ).

I'd much rather have a "laptop" that had no screen at all, and a 1200x1600 head-mounted display instead. Less weight, less power, and easier to use in more situations. ~

Software not Price (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725437)

The article keeps mentioning price as the driving factor, but I say it's software. I think tablets are hella cool, but until someone designs a must-have Linux app for touch screens, I'm not going to plunk down the money, no matter how small the premium is. However, if someone cooks up something really incredible, I'll pay whatever it takes to have it.

Until the iPhone/DS most touchscreens simply mimicked the existence of regular buttons (think ATMs, POS machines, or the Harmony remote). If somebody puts that level of innovation into some laptop app, then everybody will be buying tablets.

Touch screens suck (1, Funny)

Snaller (147050) | more than 5 years ago | (#24725561)

They get more and more greasy as you touch them, so you have to clean them all the time and since cleaning them means touching them you end up having formatted your harddrive or something.

Re:Touch screens suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24726191)

They get more and more greasy as you touch them

Use a stylus or your fingernail.

so you have to clean them all the time and since cleaning them means touching them you end up having formatted your harddrive or something.

First, you're a moron for setting up your device so that a single touch will format the drive; second, just lock the screen while you clean it.

You clearly haven't actually spent much time using touch screen devices.

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