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The Age of Touch Computing

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the touch-me-there dept.

Displays 414

DigitalDame2 writes "In 2009, touch computing will go mainstream. More and more devices will be legitimately touch-enabled with gesture controls for browsing through photos, tossing objects around the screen, flicking to turn the page of a book, and even playing video games and watching movies. In fact, Gartner analyst Steve Prentice told the BBC recently that the mouse will be dead in three to five years. PCMag has a full look at touch computing — the past, the present, and the future — including an interview with Sabrina Boler, touch UI designer."

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414 comments

The mouse... (5, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120891)

IIRC, people have been claiming the mouse will be dead in X amount of years for quite a few years now. And keyboards, too. And non-automatically-driven cars. And I think we're supposed to be living on the moon by now or something...

Predictions and speculation are cool, but humans do not appear to be very good at fulfilling them in general. Talk to an economist about that.

Re:The mouse... (4, Insightful)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120909)

In my experience touch computing just plain sucks, I'm barely able to get anything done without tactile feedback.

Re:The mouse... (5, Funny)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120965)

Also why would I want to be waving my arms at my CRT or LCD screen?

That's too much exercise. The mouse is perfect for a lazy engineer like me. I just prop my arm on the desk and move my hand left or right. I barely move at all!

Re:The mouse... (5, Interesting)

xtracto (837672) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121095)

Also why would I want to be waving my arms at my CRT or LCD screen?

Just earlier today I was thinking about this. I believe that one possible sollution to the "gorilla arm" syndrome is to put the monitor in the place of the keyboard, and move the keyboard a bit down.

The second issue to address (all this IMHO) is the visual feedback. I believe that in order to make touch-based interaction feel more natural, the applications will have to present the information in a more familiar way.

In general, I believe that touch computing can be real and can have advantages as well, however, I also believe that using touch computing does not directly means keyboardless computing as they serve a different purpose.

Re:The mouse... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26121371)

I believe that one possible solution to the "gorilla arm" syndrome is to put the monitor in the place of the keyboard, and move the keyboard a bit down.

The problem with this is now you have to look down at your monitor. This is not ergonomically feasible, until we come up with chairs that support your face while you look down. Go to a public library and look at all the wacky positions people find to read books. Most of these involve terrible posture.

Re:The mouse... (3, Insightful)

Swizec (978239) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121401)

So instead of holding my head straight similar to the natural position of, say, walking, you propose that I should be looking down at the desk all day? Can you say neck and shoulder strain beyond all reason?

Re:The mouse... (2, Funny)

halber_mensch (851834) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121439)

Also why would I want to be waving my arms at my CRT or LCD screen?

Just earlier today I was thinking about this. I believe that one possible sollution to the "gorilla arm" syndrome is to put the monitor in the place of the keyboard, and move the keyboard a bit down.

Take THAT, ergonomic viewing angles!

I for one will keep my non-touch display at a comfortable elevation while you're at the chiropractor.

Re:The mouse... (4, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121225)

A mouse is way too much work for me ... I use a trackball. Even that's really just a stop-gap until a neural interface is available. Fitness freak.

Re:The mouse... (5, Interesting)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121289)

Touch computing fails in every way possible.

I like my monitor perfectly clean. Using displays all covered in finger grease drives me nuts.

Your hands conceal parts of the screen while you're using it.

You can move a mouse over a greater distance much more quickly than your entire hand. It's also much easier to get to a specific pixel / small area with a mouse than with your fat fingertip.

People keep lauding the Minority Report UI like it's a good idea. Do you really want to have to hold your arms up like that and move them around all day?

Positioning the screen ergonomically for use as in input device puts it in a position where you're hanging your head looking down all day. The minority report problem obviously applies if you position your screen at the optimal viewing position.

Others have already mentioned it, but lack of tactile feedback is a big one. This is particularly important for programs whose UIs aren't that great. You hit the touchscreen button - the button didn't move and there was no sound. You can only guess that your button "press" didn't register because nothing happened... but you don't really know. I see this on ATMs all the time.

How is wasting half of your screen real estate on a keyboard a good idea? Oh, you can bring it up dynamically? Oh great, well then I guess you don't get to use keyboard shortcuts. That sucks.

Re:The mouse... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26121407)

You are using English. Please learn the difference between loose and lose; they're, there, and their; your and you're.

You're losing. Their loose grammar shouldn't offend your sensibilities unless they're incomprehensible. So there.

Now you and me can rest comfortably because we no that we're grammatically superior to all of the ESL loosers.

Re:The mouse... (4, Interesting)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121351)

Try the touch pad on the new MacBook and MacBook Pro. It works amazingly well - and one of the reasons is that you don't "tap" to click, you click to click. As in, physically press down on it, and feel and hear a click. You can enable "tap" to click but it's off by default, and given the number of misclicks I've made on other touch pads, I rather like it being off.

Several things make this touch pad just work compared to other touch pads I've used:

  1. It's giant, compared to the touch pad on most other laptops.
  2. You "click" by pressing down on the entire touch pad (well, the part towards the front), meaning no room is lost to buttons.
  3. You can perform "gestures" using multiple fingers. Four fingers slid down enters Exposé mode, four fingers slid up shows the desktop, sideways switches applications. Pinch to zoom (like on the iPhone), two fingers to scroll: it all works very nicely and seamlessly.
  4. And, probably the most importantly, you're not touching the screen. You're touching a touch pad below the keyboard.

So you get tactile feedback when clicking, you get a large work area, and you get all those wonderful multi-finger gestures. It works amazingly well, to the point I was trying to use the gestures on my Windows laptop after less than a day of using the MacBook.

Of course, this isn't quite the same as the "touch computing" they're talking about where you touch the screen. And the touch pad is nowhere near as accurate as a mouse (although it's good enough for day-to-day use).

But it does show to me that touch-based gestures do have a future - I just don't think I'll be touching the screen on a full-sized computer any time soon.

Re:The mouse... (4, Insightful)

Swizec (978239) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121361)

Of course you can't get anything done without tactile feedback. Our whole phisiology has been evolved for tactile feedback and our brain has gotten very good at interpreting it over the past few million years. And now these bozos think in a few short decades we can relearn a whole new paradigm to manipulating our surroundings? I don't think so.

Just think how much easier it is to turn a knob to adjust volume. You know exactly how much you've moved it. But with these modern touch screens you have to tap and observe what the software tells you has changed via a visual cue.

Sure when you think about it an equivalent to turning a knob could probably be made with a good touch screen UI, but still, you have to first look to position your finger, then drag it across very empty space and hope it worked.

How about typing, is it even possible to blind type with a touch-screen keyboard? How about detecting when you've mispressed a key without looking at the keyboard? Somehow I doubt that last bit is possible and I know from personal experience I usually detect errors with typing much sooner via my fingers than my eyes because by the time the eyes figure out what I've typed is incorrect I'm already two words ahead.

Re:The mouse... (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120923)

I don't think the mouse will be dead, but I do think that hardware buttons on portable devices are (phones, PMPs, digital cameras, etc) are going to be very nearly gone within 3-5 years (very nearly being the key bit there).

Re:The mouse... (1)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121421)

Unfortunately, you may be right.

Personally, I wouldn't want, say, a camera without tactile buttons for the central functions.
Imagine a digital camera with a touch-screen interface for zoom, focus and shutter.

Same goes for other types of devices.
A media-player should have real buttons for play, pause, previous and next.
A phone, at least for answer and hang-up functions, preferably for dialing too...

Re:The mouse... (1)

Deadfyre_Deadsoul (1193759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120967)

All hail our beloved Overlord, the aged, the undefeated, the Mouse!

As a side note, touch computing will probably be cool, but when Im buzzed, I will in no way not be lazy enough, to not use a mouse.
Laziness can only go so far.

Re:The mouse... (4, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120971)

From TFA:

In fact, Gartner analyst Steve Prentice told the BBC recently that the mouse will be dead in three to five years.

Now there's the voice of authority. Not.

Re:The mouse... (4, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121079)

I think a lot of that comes down to the fact that for desktop computing, the keyboard and mouse work, really, really well. Sure you can experiment and such, but it seems like any move (on the desktop) to replace those objects is born mostly out of a feeling that we should replace those devices simply because they've been around for so long, and not because of any real shortfalls of the devices themselves.

The place where they DON'T work well: portable computing, has seen the rise of touch computing because it is a way to interact without the space requirements of the keyboard or mouse. IMHO though, it's still a compromise that doesn't work as well from a purely functional standpoint. Basically, I'd rather have a keyboard and mouse at that time but it's simply not practical.

Overall, I think the age of touch screen MOBILE devices is here, and is here to stay for quite a while. Keyboard and mice will likely not be suplanted any time soon for other devices. The desktop itself is also often the subject of predictions stating certain demise, but I think that falls into the same area: when you are at home, there is something to be said for nice big speakers and a large screen to look at things on. Even if the portable device does become one's main computer, I'd suspect that we'll see a resurgence of docking stations where you could come home and dock your iPhone to a keyboard/mouse and larger monitor for more relaxed usage. If that becomes popular I'd also envision a sharp rise in home-NAS devices like the Drobo or Apple's Time Machine. As of right now, and for the foreseeable future, I just don't see the limited capacity of portable devices keeping up with the storage needs of the individual. Particularly as more and more TV shows and movies start to shift towards online distribution.

Re:The mouse... (1, Redundant)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121089)

You forgot flying cars promised by 2000. Still waiting on my jetpack too.

Re:The mouse... (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121171)

Sorry, keeping track of this the predictions of silly people in the past for the current year isn't my hobby, hehe...

Re:The mouse... (0, Redundant)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121187)

IIRC, people have been claiming the mouse will be dead in X amount of years for quite a few years now. And keyboards, too. And non-automatically-driven cars. And I think we're supposed to be living on the moon by now or something...

Predictions and speculation are cool, but humans do not appear to be very good at fulfilling them in general. Talk to an economist about that.

Don't forget those flying cars.

2008 - The Year of Touch Computing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26121327)

But does it run... Oh, wait.

I haven't used a mouse in years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26121339)

Only trackpads. The mouse is dead to me already.

Mouse will be dead? (2, Funny)

Outsdr (929135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120895)

It's hard to picture touch computing replacing the mouse graphic design. I prefer to work without fingerprints all over my screen. Playing a FPS shooter would ... interesting ... as well.

Re:Mouse will be dead? (3, Funny)

Kjuib (584451) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120953)

Touch Computing?!
It just sounds so dirty... think of the STDs (Software Transmitted Disease)

Re:Mouse will be dead? (5, Funny)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120977)

Playing a FPS shooter would ... interesting ... as well.

Yeah but boxing games will be great! Except for the whole "replacing your monitor after every session" bit.... :-D

Re:Mouse will be dead? (2, Insightful)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120999)

Try poking your computer screen for more than a few seconds. People's arms get tired FAST. It would be awful for the user to have to do it even occasionally.

Touchpads and tablets are the way to go. There's plenty of room for development in that area.

Flat screen monitor flat on the desk (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121127)

Try poking your computer screen for more than a few seconds. People's arms get tired FAST.

Now lay your flat screen monitor flat on your desk, where your keyboard is, and try again. It won't be as tiring. There's a reason the Nintendo DS puts the touch screen on the bottom.

Re:Flat screen monitor flat on the desk (2, Insightful)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121241)

Now try spending a day looking *down* at your desk to see your monitor. It's useful in specific situations, but eventually the neck strain will kill you.

Re:Flat screen monitor flat on the desk (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121321)

Why couldn't you have one monitor flat to place your hands on, and another in the "regular" position to look at.

Re:Flat screen monitor flat on the desk (1)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121429)

That whole bit where the screen costs 200 USD typically, more because its a "touch" screen. Contrasting with the 15-60 USD mouse... Yea. Unless monitor manufacturers decide to drop the price of the screens to less than 50 USD for a 17-22" so folks without small hands can work and have space to see what they are doing it just isn't practical.

Re:Flat screen monitor flat on the desk (1)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121389)

Now lay your flat screen monitor flat on your desk, where your keyboard is, and try again. It won't be as tiring. There's a reason the Nintendo DS puts the touch screen on the bottom.

How about neck pain from hours looking down to the monitor?

Re:Flat screen monitor flat on the desk (1)

Cormacus (976625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121451)

Tell you what. Try this, and let me know how your neck feels after an 8hr day.

It seems to me that the reason the mouse just won't die is that it is a very good way of allowing you to disconnect the motion of your eyes and the motion of your hands. "Touch" technology just isn't going to cut it.

The thing that will kill the mouse is eye-tracking software that allows you to select and interact with things on your screen by interpreting eye/facial motions. The ultimate in hands-free technology.

Re:Mouse will be dead? (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121235)

I don't think the mouse is going anywhere for a while, but who would have a touchscreen standing vertically like a regular monitor does now? More likely it would be either a portable tablet or a display device that lies on the table at a slight angle, like a drawing board. That way you can rest your arm while using the touchscreen.

Re:Mouse will be dead? (1)

Outsdr (929135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121017)

"replacing the mouse IN graphic design," is what I meant to type.

Re:Mouse will be dead? (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121249)

I heard that some people play FPS using joysticks. Now THAT is disgusting!

Re:Mouse will be dead? (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121323)

It's hard to picture touch computing replacing the mouse graphic design.

HUH???

The mouse has been dead in Graphics design for years now. Any graphics designer not using a tablet and pen is wasting a LOT of their clients time and limiting themselves hard.

Quit being a cheap-ass and go buy a wacom.

2008 (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120897)

The year of the touch desktop.

Ninnle already does this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120901)

All you have to do is install Ninnle Linux on the desktop, and you have all the benefits of this with existing hardware. It's that simple!

Didn't get past the first sentence (5, Informative)

patch0 (1339585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120945)

"Touch computing-which started with the iPhone"..... At this point I stopped reading...

Really! (2, Funny)

billlava (1270394) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121285)

How naive of them. Several models of iPod had "touch sensitive" buttons before the iPhone even came out!

Get your fingers away from me, you pervert! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120955)

... CNN producer David Bohrman and technical whiz Josh Braun devised many new uses for the wall during the election coverage, such as state election results you can see with just a "reach and tap" instead of mouse and click.

Reach and tap - mouse and click. How are these in any functional way different?

And the wall will be used for showing more visual information, such as foreclosure rates and areas with the highest unemployment. For CNN, the technology leads to better comprehension and retention with viewers, which raises a question: How long will it be before the gizmos appear in classrooms, and as teaching devices in businesses? King says adoption will be quick now that the world has seen how effective these new NUIs are at presenting information.

And of course, the requisite confusion between content and presentation. Maybe I am missing something, but pointing and clicking to the content would have worked just as well. God I hate slow news days.

Re:Get your fingers away from me, you pervert! (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121037)

Well, in their defense I could see it being useful for presentation, nowadays the presenter tends to have to walk around with a remote control if he doesn't want to sit down at the computer every few minutes, with this technology he could just gesture at the screen instead.(But it wouldn't surprise me if he still has to walk around with a remote control).

Size of pointer; different buttons (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121051)

Reach and tap - mouse and click. How are these in any functional way different?

With a mouse, the pointer is a small 16x16px or so bitmap. With a touch screen, the pointer is your hand, and that's probably ten times as wide and 20 times as tall. Even a stylus obscures more of the screen than a mouse pointer.

With a mouse, you can activate something one of four ways: hover, left-click, wheel-click, or right-click. In Firefox, these are bound to open linked page, open linked page in new window, and show link's context menu, respectively. Hover isn't bound to anything, but CSS or JavaScript on a page often binds hover to show a menu. With a touch screen, there's only one click unless you make your system non-free and license the patents covering basic multitouch gestures from Apple.

Re:Get your fingers away from me, you pervert! (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121107)

I you had seen the board CNN used during the election, you would have seen how easy it worked and why, in this particular case, using a mouse would have slowed things down. Here's a picture [geeksugar.com] of the board in question.

Reaching to touch something is much more accurate than trying to guide a mouse pointer to a particular spot, especially, as in this case, the board was right in front of you. The presenter can concentrate on the subject matter rather than having to look down, find the mouse, either look up at the screen or down at a smaller screen, drag the mouse to the location and click. By using the board, the user simply reaches out and touches the spot, no wasted movement, no delays, his train of thought continues uninterrupted.

I'm not saying this would work in every situation but it is highly suitable for presentations. Granted, the software behind this board needs to work every time but based on the granularity of the voting blocks that CNN was able to show, it seems to be able to be configured for just about anything.

This is one time where new and shiny beats out old and dull.

Re:Get your fingers away from me, you pervert! (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121191)

There's no denying that touchscreens have their uses.

But saying the mouse will be dead... hm.

I'd hate to use my 10" netbook with a touch screen. My finger would be roughly half the screen size. (ok, so that's slightly exaggerated...)

Re:Get your fingers away from me, you pervert! (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121311)

But saying the mouse will be dead... hm.

Absolutely agree. The mouse will not be dead in 3, 5 or even 10 years. It is too useful for most situations to go away.

However, in situations like I described, the mouse loses, badly, to touch screens.

As an aside, ever notice in ST:TNG they used touch screen pads whereas in ST:TOS they used a stylus and what looked like an electronic notepad? It just goes to show that over a hundred years from now, touch screens will just be coming into their own.

Re:Get your fingers away from me, you pervert! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121229)

Hold one arm in the air by your monitor, and lay the other on the desk beside your keyboard. Now tell me which one gets tired first.

If you really want to adjust the input devices, then cut the keyboard in half, and stick a motion sensor under each half. In other words, give me two fifty button mice. That way, I don't have to switch from keyboard to mouse.

What's with all the touch hype? (2, Insightful)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120963)

Hey, touchscreens are great and all, especially on small devices like smartphones or PMPs, but for the 24"+ monsters they're calling monitors these days, I'll stick with a halfway decent mouse...

Re:What's with all the touch hype? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121155)

I'd pay $50 (this doesn't seem hilariously low given 5 years and a reasonable size) for a thin screen that I could set on my desk and use as an input device. I'm not sure I would use it for anything in the long run, but I would pay $50 just to try it.

Thinking about it, a programmable input screen seems like a great addition to a keyboard and mouse (for selecting options in photoshop or a game or whatever). Rough gestures for doing things like zooming in on an image also seem pretty natural (spinning a finger in a circle is a lot more natural than spinning a mouse).

The mice will live (3, Insightful)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120973)

In fact, Gartner analyst Steve Prentice told the BBC recently that the mouse will be dead in three to five years.

I know Steve has 33 years of IT experience, but such claim is anything but probable. The only true mouse replacement would be a thought-based medium and I doubt that any commercialization of such technology is here within 5 years. For web surfing, touch and movement works just fine, but when you go for precision like gaming, Photoshop and programming.

A movement tracker for laptops would be a great touchpad replacement, however.

Re:The mice will live (2, Insightful)

JustKidding (591117) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121027)

Indeed, imagine doing 3D CAD/CAM without a mouse. Do I have to surrender my space navigator, too?

Touch screens royally suck for anything other than clicking really big buttons.

Re:The mice will live (2, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121115)

> Indeed, imagine doing 3D CAD/CAM without a mouse.

I have no difficulty at all imagining doing that with a trackball. Doing it with a mouse, on the other hand, sounds like a PITA. But then, so does using a mouse for much of anything. Yet almost everyone uses a mouse. Mice aren't going away.

Multitouch for Windows 7 (1)

simaolation (1381125) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120987)

"Windows 7, now with more ways to invoke BSOD on demand!" Someone else please bring in the Hammer time jokes.

form factor (2, Interesting)

Gnaythan1 (214245) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120991)

only if the monitor is relatively flat against the desktop, at a reasonable height to prevent wrist strain, and easy to access...

I don't want to reach past my keyboard all the time to touch the screen. and I certainly don't want to lose the haptic response and general precision of a keyboard.

If a touchcreen can handle 50 words per minute typing, and is as comfortable as a keyboard..... maybe.

Re:form factor (2, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121157)

only if the monitor is relatively flat against the desktop, at a reasonable height to prevent wrist strain, and easy to access...

and simultaneously perpendicular to the desktop at a reasonable height to prevent neck and back strain... Since it can't be both parallel and perpendicular at the same time, touch computing necessarily won't replace all mice until tablets replace all workstations and laptops.

"This new HP Touchsmart PC comes with a 3 year warranty and 3 year chiropractic service!"

Re:form factor (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121175)

and simultaneously perpendicular to the desktop at a reasonable height to prevent neck and back strain

Why? Before PCs became popular, people wrote with a pen on paper placed parallel to the desk. How hard did centuries of that strain people's necks?

Since it can't be both parallel and perpendicular at the same time

Nintendo DS.

Re:form factor (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121329)

and simultaneously perpendicular to the desktop at a reasonable height to prevent neck and back strain

Why? Before PCs became popular, people wrote with a pen on paper placed parallel to the desk. How hard did centuries of that strain people's necks?

Yes, but they didn't generally read that way.

Re:form factor (1)

Swizec (978239) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121245)

50 words per minute!? Isn't that kind of slow far as typing goes?

Re:form factor (1)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121281)

If a touchcreen can handle 50 words per minute typing, and is as comfortable as a keyboard..... maybe.

It's going to have to do a lot better than that. I, for one, am not willing to accept a 50% reduction in my typing speed, nor will anyone who touch-types reasonably well, as part of their job.

If you say so (2, Interesting)

overshoot (39700) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120993)

Gartner analyst Steve Prentice told the BBC recently that the mouse will be dead in three to five years.

Maybe for tasks that don't require any precision. There are quite a few of those -- but that's not all of them.

Re:If you say so (1)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121341)

Maybe for tasks that don't require any precision. There are quite a few of those -- but that's not all of them.

Agreed. From a gaming perspective, I'm sure there are many casual games out there that could benefit from this, but I find most serious games need precision control. I imagine playing a FPS with a touch-screen to be about as accurate as playing a FPS with the wii-mote. Sure you might get in the general vicinity, but unless you have something that lets you make pixel-perfect selections, forget sniping.

I could however see RTS's benefit from this in some ways if it COMBINED mouse control. Imagine being able to control five groups of units individually with each finger on your hand. Might get a little awkward, but would still be cool. Even controlling two selections of units at once. Can you say pincer movement?

Mice are not dead (2, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121009)

Touch computing may be mainstream for handheld devices, but it will be a long time before the mouse is replaced on a desktop PC. What these prognosticators always seem to forget about PC displays is the display is vertical and in front of you. It gets tiring if you have to hold your arm up to touch stuff on the screen all day. Your arm does at least get to rest on the table if you're using a mouse or trackpad.

For a PC, the prognosticators also seem to forget that the mouse is good enough, and it's tremendously difficult to replace "good enough" in three years. Touch interfaces on a desktop system don't offer any benefits over a mouse (unlike on handheld devices, where a touch interface is obviously very very much better than any other kind of pointing device). For laptops, again, the vertical screen problem and arm-tiredness/screen smudging issues persist, and people find trackpads good enough with a touch screen not really offering any worthwhile benefit on a full size laptop.

Re:Mice are not dead (2, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121159)

> Touch computing may be mainstream for handheld devices...

And that's it, of course. Since handhelds are the current trendy "technology" they are all that matter.

Re:Mice are not dead (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121181)

What these prognosticators always seem to forget about PC displays is the display is vertical and in front of you. It gets tiring if you have to hold your arm up to touch stuff on the screen all day.

Answered in my other comment [slashdot.org] .

Death of the Mouse? (3, Interesting)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121013)

Ridiculous prediction. Can someone explain how it would be "progress" or an "improvement" if, instead of my hand comfortably resting on my desk manipulating the mouse, I would have to repeatedly lift my arm and poke at my screen? Especially since in my case, poor circulation and some arthritis make repeated lifting or movement of my arm rather painful over time. (Not to mention that a self-cleaning screen would be a necessity -- my screen gets dirty enough on its own without my fat fingers smearing it up on a regular basis.)

Touchscreen technology has its place, but this is a perfect example of how a technology some people think is "cool" or "advanced" leads them to feel that it should be universally adopted.

Re:Death of the Mouse? (2, Insightful)

Shados (741919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121063)

The only thing I can think of, is the keyboard being a touch screen itself (think the newer Wacom tablets), and would extent to the mouse "section" of your desk (or you'd have two).

So you'd have a touchscreen "keyboard" with tactil feedback (that already exists, they'd have to improve it though), and a "pointer" touchscreen that would act as the mouse.

Considering all the effort that has went through making mice comfier, I don't see it changing in 3-5 years. And mice would stay around if only as a gaming peripherical... no one has yet found a good replacement for the mouse for FPS and the like... even the Wii remote is hit or miss. On top of that, considering all the people who hurt themselves using a mouse from being in a poor position for too long, I can't see, as you point out, how an alternative touchscreen-based solution would work without making all of that worse.

Be Sure to Practice Safe Computing (5, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121021)

With all of the new fads, some computer users may not be aware of the danger of touch screens with multiple partners. Diseases like Onchomyosis [wikipedia.org] can be spread from one finger to another by touching a screen that has multiple partners. Be frank and honest with your screen. Purchase finger cotts [all-spec.com] , always have one on hand before you consider touching, and use them consciontiously!

Arms are heavy (2, Insightful)

RayMarron (657336) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121023)

I call BS. Using a mouse, most of my arm weight is supported by the desk, requiring only sight movements. Can you imagine working at a computer all day and having to hold your arms up to the screen? Not to mention my hand and arm obscures everything below it, unlike a mouse pointer. Also, a mouse pointer is capable of single-pixel selection. Try that with those sausages you call fingers. (That last point was mentioned in the interview)

Touch works great for kiosks and things like ATMs. Not so much for all-day activities.

Dont think so (1)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121025)

touch computing requires more movement than a traditional mouse. not to mention how annoying using a touch screen all day on a huge monitor would be. from personal expirience, I went from using an all touch screen device (instinct) to the g1 and use the trackball almost exclusivly now. the interview isn't biased ofcourse, its only a touch ui designer giving the answers...

Dead my arse! (1)

Psiren (6145) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121033)

Why the fuck would I want to be waving my arms around poking away at my screen? Can you imagine how quickly your arms would ache if you had to do that? With my mouse I can rest my entire arm on the desk. It works perfectly well. There's nothing wrong with touch technology as an addition to other stuff, but its certainly not a replacement. What a load of bollocks.

Mouse will be dead! NOT! (1)

rumcho (921428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121061)

Gartner anal-yst Steve Prentice has no clue. he must be one of those armchair philosophers. I'd much rather use my mouse than reach for a stupid screen.

2010 - The Year of Gorilla Arm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26121065)

Gorilla Arm [computer-d...online.org]

What's old is soon to be new again.

Error! does not compute. (1)

senorpoco (1396603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121067)

How do they intend to nacho-cheese-flavor proof my interface?

If Gartner says it... (1)

pigiron (104729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121085)

it must be true!!!

Stupid tech predictions (1)

Adriax (746043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121111)

I bet the same guy either has never played an FPS game before, or thinks console controllers are the pinnacle of FPS control schemes. Cause frankly I have no clue how aiming a sniper rifle will work when you have to sight past your fingers. Half my headshots in the original UT were against targets less than a quarter inch high in my screen.

Touch screens have two major flaws, it's not possible to move the pointer and click at the same time, and there's only one button.
Touch screens like imac mice, fine for idiots who get confused by anything more complicated than a hockey puck you mash down on, but slow and annoying for people who can comprehend the existence of more than one option.

Re:Stupid tech predictions (3, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121301)

Cause frankly I have no clue how aiming a sniper rifle will work when you have to sight past your fingers.

If I were to program the inputs for a touch screen FPS, I'd make it so that you bring your thumb and index finger together where the person's head is visible.

"I'm crushing your head!"

Re:Stupid tech predictions (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121411)

In CS I regularly shoot at 5x5 pixel areas. That's definitely not happening with a fingertip.

Possibility of touch computing (1)

extrasolar (28341) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121145)

Honestly, I think touch interfaces are neat. But I'd really like interface design to go quite a bit farther. Maybe I'm just being imaginative. Consider my this:

I think the main benefit to a touch interface is the sense that you can manipulate objects on the screen directly. I'd like to see the first screen on a touch device a totally blank screen. There are no controls on the screen until you put them there. Touch once on a the screen and you create a rounded-corner square. At first it is selected. After two seconds it changes color signifying that it is no longer selected. If you continue to tap it while it is selected it changes modes to serve other functions. This way you can cycle through all of it's modes. When it isn't selected, you can drag to different parts of the screen.

You need to combine this with gestures. While a button is selected, strike your finger straight to the right and then slightly down, and it will bring up a menu for that button. Using that menu you can freeze that button so it can't be changed and it is simply a part of the interface. This way you can basically create your own use interface from scratch.

Need to input a number? Put those virtual keyboards away. Click on the control and drag your finger up. The numbers will increment exponentially. Raise your finger and then drag up or down again to increment exponentially from where you first raised your finger. You should be able to reach virtually any number in the real number system in a couple of drags.

I could go on and on. I think what we have now is just the tip of the iceberg, it's still based on the mouse/keyboard paradigms that we've been working with for the past 30 years. I think the main thing is that the virtual keyboards need to become something you basically don't need to use any more. Touch computing should become synonymous with semantic computing, since the system needs to understand the context of what you're trying to do. Even writing text doesn't necessarily need a virtual text, the system should know, grammatically, what sort of words and phrases you can choose from. Use a thesaraus to choose a word with a certain kind of meaning, and then keep tapping that word to cycle through other words that are nearly synonymous. You should be able to add templates for the various sorts of sentences that you tend to use.

Anyway, I know Slashdotters are going to hate this but, hey, at least I'm thinking :)

Re:Possibility of touch computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26121305)

Or we could just continue to use the proven mouse and keyboard combination, with the occasional and optional addition of touch capabilities in certain programs where it's actually useful.
 
An exclusively touch-based interface would be terrible, you hardly gain anything yet sacrifice accuracy, clarity (hello fingers) and physical ease of use (arms are heavy). It's okay for a dedicated and limited device, but it's not for a general purpose computer and never will be. The M+K combination is extremely efficient and there is no reason to replace or even significantly change it right now.

No thought (3, Informative)

GottliebPins (1113707) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121163)

The age of no thought computing is here. Where people think that all they have to do is touch something and it magically works. They don't have to think or type or know anything to get whatever it is they want. But for those of us who live in the real world and actually have to create the content these no brainers will be using we will still be using keyboards and pointing devices. I for one don't want to spend 8-10 hours a day flapping my arms around writting an application nor do I want to spend all day arguing with my computer to get it to understand the context of the words I'm saying. Whenever these geniuses come out with some new keyboard that isn't standard that adds 52 extra keys to control every multimedia device on the planet it psses me off. How am I supposed to type on this? Where's the damn delete key? How am I supposed to do real work here? I don't need a pointing device that knows how I feel or what my favorite color is. I just need one that works.

Two words for that prediction (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121183)

Just two words: gorilla arm.

Touch-screens will work on mobile and hand-held devices. They're fine for anything where you don't need to use the UI for very long. But if you're going to be moving the cursor and selecting things for 8 hours a day (as is normal for business computer use), you run up against basic anatomy and physiology: it hurts to hold your arm out in front of you (where your computer screen is) for long periods. No amount of UI design will change that. And I just don't see tablet computers replacing standard monitor-and-keyboard setups for work that involves a lot of typing (as most business use does). The only way you can resolve the issue is to move the pointing device from out in front of the user to down beside the keyboard so they don't have to hold their arm up in front of them anymore. But you need to keep the display out in front, because that's where the user's head naturally looks. Hmm, that's looking at lot more like a standard screen plus mouse/trackball/touchpad than a touchscreen, isn't it?

NB: a relative of gorilla-arm is why a lot of people prefer trackballs to mice and touchpads. Less arm movement, less muscle strain.

Toyota Prius Touchscreen Experience (3, Interesting)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121193)

I drove an '89 Honda Civic into the ground this month and replaced it with a Prius.

I'm not happy with the touch screen controls at all. For example, turning on the heat. I live in SoCal, one rarely needs to do this.

1. press climate hardware button along the side of the touch screen.
On the touch screen:
2. press recirculate
3. press the appropriate fan speed.
4. press defrost front
5. press defrost rear

Turn the car off and run errand. Repeat steps 1-5 after errand because it doesn't save those settings.

In the Civic, this was all done by feeling for the buttons on the dash and sliding the vent controls. I could do all of that and still keep two eyes on the road. I have to check the touchscreen on the Prius which I don't care for at all.

Given the way desktop computer UI's have only become more complicated, I'm positive the car's touchscreen UI will only get more complicated. That's a bad thing.

Apple stuff they should (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26121199)

Yeah. I'm using a MacBook. It has a track pad. Apple really needs to keep the new cool glass track pad (the one in the brick, without a separate button but with the tactile feedback of pressing down on the entire pad) and in addition to it, they need to implement iPhone-like touchscreen functionality on the displays of the laptops. Secondly, they really must come up with an ingenious way to get rid of mechanical buttons on the keyboard, turning that into a screen as well so that when you switch languages, you'll see the right keys in the right places, but WITH tactile feedback of some type.

Touchscreens and Bacon don't mix (5, Insightful)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121203)

Anyone who thinks touchscreen computing will dominate soon better come up with a smudge-free coating.

I wonder how effective touchscreen computing would be for me with super-greasy hands after eating a pound of bacon. Yum!

Sounds messy (1)

astrodoom (1396409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121209)

As if greasy mice and keyboards aren't bad enough. Imagine the screen being covered in it. Even simple things like sweat would degrade the surface over time. Seems like it'll be a pain to keep things clean. Also, my finger is much bigger than a cursor, so a stylus or mouse as a secondary device becomes necessary. This would solve the problem with the greasy screen as well, but sort of takes away some of the point when you're essentially adding a peripheral back into the equation.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1)

travisb828 (1002754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121233)

There was a good product placement shot of Microsoft Surface in the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Obivously microsoft is wanting to sell a few of these things, and they may be popular in bars and other places where there would be social interaction of some sort. But try selecting a block of text or dragging on a vertical surface like a monitor while you are tying to do your everyday work. It just doesnt seem as precise as a mouse.

Gorilla Arm (1)

Zarkonnen (662709) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121251)

The big problem with touch screen GUIs is what's called Gorilla Arm [wikipedia.org] : your arms can't sustain being stretched out and making small precise movements. This isn't a problem if the screen is horizontal, but then you get neck strain from looking down all day. So while touchscreen interfaces may look cool and work well for small devices, their ergonomics are fundamentally broken for any real work.

Too fashionable to be ignored (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26121257)

Touch screen computing has become too fashionable for any manufacturer to ignore. This is a bad thing because they're all going to pursue it because they feel that they have to, and never mind how useful or not people are going to find it, or if they are even going to want it in the first place.

Wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26121263)

Touch computing is never going to really takeoff, let alone supplant the mouse and keyboard. Touch works "good enough" in limited and specific applications, but it will never be a major player in general purpose computing. We all know this. Bookmark this story and come back in a year (hell, make it 5 years); the situation will be the same then as it is today.

As an aside, I don't really even see the distinction between touch and mouse. Touch is essentially duplicating the functionality of the mouse, only instead of moving a mouse across a desk you are moving a stylus across a screen; that is not a big difference in my opinion. For touch to truly be distinct from the mouse, I think it would have to go 3-dimensional. The problem with this is that currently the majority of computer applications work in a 2-dimensional space; obviously the exception to this is things like CAD. This kind of seems like a chicken and egg problem to me. Touch is not going to take off until 3-dimensional computing takes off, but 3-dimensional computing is not going to take off until touch takes off. My guess (and I am probably wrong) is that eventually somebody might design a 3-dimensional computing experience whose main input device is also 3-dimensional, perhaps something like the Nintendo Power Glove [wikipedia.org] . However, the problem with this (and 3-dimensional input in general) is that you have to keep your hands/arms elevated for extended periods of time; this makes operating a computer exhaustive. For this reason alone, I think touch will never be anything more than it is now: basically a slightly different implementation of the mouse.

Get off my lawn (1)

snarfies (115214) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121271)

They can pry my mouse from my cold dead hands.

1) If I had to constantly reach up and touch my screen I'm fairly certain my shoulder and/or neck would be killing me within an hour if not less.

2) It'll be the final nail in the coffin of PC gaming, because let's face it - quite a few genres pretty much rely on the mouse (RTS and FPS spring to mind). Yeah, I know there are RTS are FPS games on consoles. It just isn't the same experience.

3) I don't trust touchscreens in general. I've used WAY too many ATMs, on a weekly basis, where I am practically punching the screen to get any sort of response. I won't have a phone with a touchscreen - if the ATM touchscreen won't work after a while, I can't imagine my phone continuing to function while kicking around in my pocket for months on end. No iphone or G1 for me. I'll stick with my (fully buttoned) Nokia E61i.

Now GTFO my lawn, kthxbye.

Touch-a touch-a touch-a touch me, I wanna be dirty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26121283)

Touch-a touch-a touch-a touch me, I wanna be dirty.

Mouse is dead - Long live the mouse! (1)

Pincus (744497) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121317)

It seems like most commenters have it right. Why replace a low effort, efficient device like a mouse with flailing arms and constant effort?

My touch device will be the one that incorporate a touchpad, the size of a mousepad, but more responsive than anything built into a laptop. With minimal conditioning, we should be able to correlate touching a spot on our pad to clicking a spot on the screen, and the effort required is no more than pointing and clicking a mouse.

"prediction" columns are humorous (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121331)

Either they predict some trend so obvious, everyone already knew it. Else they are mostly wrong. Looks these "December" prediction columns from 10 years ago and you'll see what I mean.

Touchscreen Pr0n (2, Funny)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121333)

I think the touchscreen paradigm will take off when someone actually figures out to use it with porn.

attention whore (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121355)

In fact, Gartner analyst Steve Prentice told the BBC recently that the mouse will be dead in three to five years.

Notice that it's only pundits and "analysts" that make stupid and outrageous claims like these. If you actually pay attention to computing history (instead of pretending to write about its future), you'll see that it takes closer to eight years for any technology to completely replace the one before it from introduction to almost complete market saturation.

The primary domain of the mouse is the desktop computer, but the mouse isn't going anywhere because there's nothing to replace it. A touchscreen certainly won't because nobody wants to keep their arm hanging in mid-air for hours on end. The closest thing would be Microsoft's paper-thin multi-touch trackpad [gizmodo.com] but so far as I've been able to tell, nobody is planning to manufacture such a device. I'd love to have a giant touchpad in lieu of a mouse, but apparently I'm alone in that wish since nobody makes or is even planning to make one.

In certain applications (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121367)

Currently working on a project that Point of Sale related and uses touchscreens. It makes sense for that application and a lot of POS systems are designed for touch screens. The trick is getting the buttons big enough and then everything works smoothly.

Well, one afternoon I got a little board and installed the latest BSG Fleet Commander (Homeworld 2) mod and tried playing it using the touch screen. It worked quite well for management of the production & launch screens, but pretty much everything else still had to be done by mouse. Not to say with gestures and a game designed for touchscreens couldn't be cool, but after about the initial 15 minutes of "Oh this is cool" I went back to using a mouse and then got back to real work.

Touch is a fad... (1)

Red Samurai (893134) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121375)

Is there even any evidence to suggest that touch is superior to standard input methods like the mouse? Would it raise productivity? I doubt it. In fact, I'd say it would do the opposite. Just because a solution is flashy and hi-tech, that doesn't make it superior. I'll stick with my keyboard and mouse.

Not touch 'PCs', touch 'Computers' (3, Insightful)

boyfaceddog (788041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121381)

I know this is all about the PC and we all know that as long as people have PCs somewhere there will always be mice and keyboards of some kind.

But look around. How many people have iPhones/iPods/knockoffs? How 'bout the new touch screen blackberries? Been to Redbox? Worked at a McDonald's? Its all touch screen. Computers in the wild (not home or work) are more likely to have a touch interface than not and hand-held computers (sorry 'phones') are all going that way.

Wrong solution to a non-problem (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121391)

Apple used multi-touch because it solved a problem. Mobile devices need the screen as large as possible; however, making the screen too large would make the device not as portable. Competing with the screen for space is the keyboard. So Apple eliminated the keyboard. There are some drawbacks to this and Apple's implementation with multi-touch tries to address this. Anybody who has used a Blackberry (except for the Storm) will tell you that typing on that is much better to input than on an iPhone, but the iPhone works well enough for what it does.

Adding touch to a UI without solving a problem seems superflous. For kiosks and maybe tablets, it's a great solution. For a desktop, I don't see a lot of benefits. I'm not saying that UI cannot be improved but touch doesn't seem to be it.

Woo Hoo! (1)

adh0c (1419447) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121433)

It's the Age of Buzzwords! I must remember to make my cloud of software as a service LAMP green servers offer RSS compatible with streaming social touch computing new media podcast paradigm on our Web 2.0 AJAX on Ruby on Rails on Toast dynamic peer-to-peer application.
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