Multiple-touch interfaces from Microsoft

October 2, 2009 at 9:38 am | Posted in waffle | Leave a comment
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There is a good deal of excitement in the HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) world about the potential for touch interfaces, especially those that support multiple touch and gestures – exemplified by Apple with its iPhone, iPod Touch and MacBook trackpads. However, Microsoft has also been doing a good deal of work in this field, as can been seen from these developments. With both these major players pushing this technology, one thing is certain – in 5 years time you won’t just be using a keyboard and mouse.

BumpTop is a 3-D desktop overlay for Windows 7 – take a look at the video to see the potential. Of course it relies on having a PC with a multi-touch sensitive screen – and there aren’t many of these at present. I think there are also some ergonomic issues – do you have the screen flat on your desk, upright or (perhaps best) propped on a lecturn – I can imagine your arms getting tired quickly if the position is awkward, and you don’t want to be looking down at it all the time either.

Microsoft Surface envisions larger mult-touch surfaces that can be used collaboratively – and these devices already exist and are in use – they just aren’t common (yet).  If you want to see where Microsoft think this is heading, check out their ‘vision of the future‘ videos – look at the montage first, andthere are others that focus on healthcare, banking etc.

Finally, lots of tech blogs are gushing over Microsoft Courier, a tablet device (that doesn’t actually exist yet) that again shows how touch interfaces can radically alter the way we use computers. An of course its an open secret that Apple will be launching a tablet device next year…


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