Configurable Thoughts


U Can’t Touch This

Apple with the iPhone and iPad, and Google with Android, revolutionized the way we interact with our portable devices. They commoditized touch screen display technology, making it possible for us to control our ‘PCs-in-our-pocket’ more conveniently than we can control our Desktop or Laptop PCs with a mouse. Besides the plain ease of use, there is something irresistible about swiping with your finger across a screen and enjoying the astonishing effects that this triggers. And, being able to control your mobile device while walking, really adds to the whole mobile experience and sense of freedom when you are on the go.

But, (there’s always a but isn’t there) touch screens easily get dirty from all that touching and it is not just finger prints. Touch screens are dirty to the extent that they are becoming a health risk. You don’t have to take my word for it, look here.

Strangely enough, while this is being recognized and supported by many studies, there is a trend from ‘private’ touch-screens to ‘shared’ touch-screens. Touch-screens are increasingly being used in equipment like ATMs, or Point of Sale terminals. And at Computex in Taipei in the beginning of June, vendors were fighting each-other to claim to have the biggest, or the biggest by combining multiple in a co-ordinated manner, touch-screen. And we’re no longer talking about single touch versus multi-touch. No sir, we’re talking 10-finger touch and 20-finger touch – last time I checked, I only had 10. Both trends are clearly driven to support the multi-user experience. After the iPod and the iPad, you can enjoy the iBar.

Given the health risk related warnings multi-user touch-screens might not be the best – and future proof – evolution. Of course we all could wear gloves. As MC Hammer already visionary rapped in the early nineties, “U Can’t Touch This”.

How did he know? OK, we’re geeks but still…

Fortunately with the increasing performance capabilities of embedded 32-bit processors I expect we’ll see a rapid evolution from touch-screen control to gesture based control, eliminating the physical interaction with the display. Remember the movie Minority Report with Tom Cruise and his futuristic holographic wall? I want one, but that is something for my next blog.

Here is a video of the world’s largest touch-screen – I wonder how many fingers it supports.