The Touch Enabled Interface You Thought You Knew May Soon Change

Maximum PC Staff

It’s become obvious that computing potential is currently outpacing the ability to manipulate it. The roadblocks at present are the keyboard and mouse. The keyboard is an easy example, with it being adopted without modification from the typewriter, where the QWERTY version, at least, was designed to slow the typist down . The mouse presents another set of problems: it works mostly in two dimensional space, and offers only limited input--from one hand only.

The quest, then, is on to develop a snazzy human interface that works as effectively as the one that runs the USS Enterprise (D Class) on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Microsoft has been playing with the idea of a next generation mouse , which captures information from the whole hand rather than the odd finger or two. And, of course, there are the touch-screen efforts which populate a number of mobile devices, most prominently the iPhone/iPod Touch.

But are current touch screens the solution? R. Clayton Miller says there is a better way.

Miller has advanced a notion for revising our conceptualization of the touch screen with his 10/GUI project . He contends that the touch screen as used is too limiting to work effectively as a mainstream computing solution. He argues instead for a touch-screen input pad (sort of a super-sophisticated Wacom table) that pairs with a monitor, and makes use of input from all ten of your fingers. (No word on toes just yet.) Sort of a macro version of a Nintendo DS: input on the bottom screen and watch it play out on the top one.

Miller also argues that present windows-based paradigm for organizing information will also have to be replaced. He suggests instead something he calls “Con10uum.” Con10uum is a sequence of linear windows, each context sensitive, that offer a more systematic means of managing and interacting with on-screen information.

What’s the future hold? Perhaps a typewriter hardwired to a cathode-ray tube as seen in the movie Brazil . Or you could build your own, as MaximumPC’s Alex Castle did back in April. Still, it might be worth a moment of your time to check out Miller’s video presentation of his vision of the future of the human-computer interface.

Image Credit: R. Clayton Miller

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