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The Age of Touch Computing 414

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the touch-me-there dept.
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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The Age of Touch Computing

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  • The mouse... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:48PM (#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... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zironic (1112127) on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:49PM (#26120909)

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

      • by theaveng (1243528) on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:53PM (#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... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by xtracto (837672) on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:02PM (#26121095) Journal

          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: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            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... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Swizec (978239) on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:26PM (#26121401) Homepage
            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... (Score:4, Interesting)

              by alta (1263) on Monday December 15, 2008 @02:37PM (#26122455) Homepage Journal
              A complicated set of mirrors placed all over the desk could solve that problem, but it presents its own new set of problems. One alone would not be good, need even amount to get rid of the 'mirror image' problem. Actually, I said this jokeingly, but it would allow you to be able to have have rather small monitor, at say 12", but a really high resolution, optically blown up in front of you. It would also make your hand massive though. Getting all those optics lined up would just be a nighmare though.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by halber_mensch (851834)

            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.

        • by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:14PM (#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.
          • by theaveng (1243528) on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:34PM (#26121503)

            Yes. My 12-hour-a-day mousing exercises are why my right hand is so strong. It has nothing to do with anything else.

            Nope.

            Na-uh.

            That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            They can have my Logitech Trackman Marble FX [logitech.com] when they pry it out of my cold, dead fingers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by fracai (796392)

          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!

          Huh, all this time I've modeled my coding on that scene in Swordfish. Maybe that's why nothing compiles.

        • Eye Computing (Score:3, Interesting)

          by danieltdp (1287734)
          I would like eye computing. You just target something with your eyes and bam. It's selected. If you don't press any key, it is selection. Key A grabs, Key B clicks. Keys goes into a small wireless control that has some buttons and maybe secondary small joystick for more complex moves that requires more than two degrees of freedom.
        • by MMInterface (1039102) on Monday December 15, 2008 @03:04PM (#26122729)
          This is modded funny but it's true. The mouse requires a lot less effort than touching your screen. In that sense touch screen is almost a step backwards. The benefits of touch screen are very situational, but it seems like novelty and looks are whats drawing attention to it. I think that the touch screen is often beneficial in situations similar to tablet pc: when you are standing up, and can't easily use a mouse and keyboard.

          Right now touch is often being marketed as one size fits all. The success of the iPhone has helped support that(not trying to diss Apple so please don't hurt me). The use of touch screen on phones is somewhat different though. Touch screen works better for phones when you are stationary. When you are on the go and want to type without looking at your screen the whole time, touch screen is not the best method for input.

          In vehicles there are other issues. Touch screen has the benefit of saving space by combining the screen and the input devices. The problem is that it requires more attention that may be better focused on driving. With conventional controls you don't necessarily need to look away from the road for a split second.

          I think the problem is that instead of finding the best use for things, people tend to follow all or nothing trends. Every new trend is supposed to completely replace the old one. At least that's how the media often presents things. Saying the mouse is going to die pretty much means they want to get credit for predicting the latest fad. Touch screen will excel in certain areas and the mouse in others. In a desktop setting, the mouse is generally going to be there fore a very long time.
      • Re:The mouse... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:18PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          See gorilla arm: n.

          The side-effect that destroyed touch-screens as a mainstream input technology despite a promising start in the early 1980s. It seems the designers of all those spiffy touch-menu systems failed to notice that humans aren't designed to hold their arms in front of their faces making small motions. After more than a very few selections, the arm begins to feel sore, cramped, and oversized â" the operator looks like a gorilla while using the touch screen and fe

        • by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday December 15, 2008 @02:21PM (#26122195)

          It's also much easier to get to a specific pixel / small area with a mouse than with your fat fingertip.

          We're sorry, but the fingers you've used to dial are too fat. To order a magic dialing wand please mash the keypad now.

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

        by _xeno_ (155264) on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:22PM (#26121351) Homepage Journal

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by steelfood (895457)

          You "click" by pressing down on the entire touch pad (well, the part towards the front), meaning no room is lost to buttons.

          That only works when your UI paradigm is built around one mouse button.

          • Actually, clicking with two fingers is equal to a right-click.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by imamac (1083405)
            Tapping with 2 fingers works like a right click for me. Do people really still think Macs don't use a "right click" to bring up contextual menus??
      • Re:The mouse... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Swizec (978239) on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:23PM (#26121361) Homepage
        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sam0737 (648914)

        Agree! I owned a Windows Mobile Phone but I hate the part that I cannot dial without looking at the screen. (and I'm not happy to announce to everyone that who I am calling through the voice control)

        iPhone sucks even further...It force me to use the belly of finger to touch, thumbnail does not work. Which means the uncertainty of the hotspot is increased ten folded.

        I owned a TouchStream keyboard before, which I think that's where Apple accuqired the multitouch technology. TS keyboard is a flat, oversized ke

    • by Darundal (891860)
      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).
      • by Mattsson (105422)

        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... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SirGarlon (845873) on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:53PM (#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: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Bozdune (68800)

        Based on this prediction, I predict that Gartner will be dead in three to five years.

    • Re:The mouse... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:01PM (#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: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by BountyX (1227176)
      You forgot flying cars promised by 2000. Still waiting on my jetpack too.
      • Sorry, keeping track of this the predictions of silly people in the past for the current year isn't my hobby, hehe...
  • 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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kjuib (584451)

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

    • by SirLurksAlot (1169039) on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:53PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hao Wu (652581)
      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.
      • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mdarksbane (587589)

          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.

          • Why couldn't you have one monitor flat to place your hands on, and another in the "regular" position to look at.
            • by Cowmonaut (989226)
              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.
      • 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.
    • by Yetihehe (971185)
      I heard that some people play FPS using joysticks. Now THAT is disgusting!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      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.

  • by patch0 (1339585) on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:52PM (#26120945) Homepage
    "Touch computing-which started with the iPhone"..... At this point I stopped reading...
    • Really! (Score:2, Funny)

      by billlava (1270394)
      How naive of them. Several models of iPod had "touch sensitive" buttons before the iPhone even came out!
  • ... 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 v

    • by Zironic (1112127)

      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).

    • by tepples (727027) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .selppet.> on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:59PM (#26121051) Homepage Journal

      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.

      • 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.

        I've had a PDA for a few years and could never use effectively the stylus because of that. There's no way to right-click and open an options sub-menu.

        And there's more: with a m

    • 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
      • 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...)

        • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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...
  • The mice will live (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eebra82 (907996) on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:53PM (#26120973) Homepage

    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JustKidding (591117)

      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by John Hasler (414242)

        > 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.

  • form factor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gnaythan1 (214245) on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:54PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Culture20 (968837)

      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027)

        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.

        • 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.

    • by Swizec (978239)
      50 words per minute!? Isn't that kind of slow far as typing goes?
    • 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 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by overshoot (39700) on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:54PM (#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.

    • 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 sn

  • Mice are not dead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:56PM (#26121009) Journal

    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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by John Hasler (414242)

      > 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.

  • Death of the Mouse? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stanislav_J (947290) on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:56PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shados (741919)

      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 per

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:56PM (#26121021) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RayMarron (657336)

    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

  • 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...
  • 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.

  • 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 i

  • 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.

  • No thought (Score:3, Informative)

    by GottliebPins (1113707) on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:08PM (#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.
  • 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 re

  • by mpapet (761907) on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:11PM (#26121193) Homepage

    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.

  • by Hordeking (1237940) on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:12PM (#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!
  • 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

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

  • 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

  • by boyfaceddog (788041) on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:24PM (#26121381) Journal

    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.

  • 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 t

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