Friday, 18 June 2010

The desktop goes all touchy feely

 We've got a Microsoft Surface demo unit in the office at the minute, which naturally meant I had to go and have a play.  I'd like to say that it's a big iPad, after all, I am still thinking about my iPad as a primarily coffee table device, and this is indeed a coffee table with a touch sensitive screen/top.

Now that I've been using touch as an interface for almost a year, and in particular playing with the iPad for the last six weeks or so, I've got used to the speed, grace and ease with which it reacts to my touch, swipe, pinch etc,  I have to confess that the Microsoft Surface was a real disappointment.  It felt like one of the Atari games tables you used to see in pubs in the 1980's.  Just with worse screen resolution. We've had to have the blinds down in reception so you can see it.  The touch surface isn't terribly sensitive either so I was having to repeatedly jab quite hard at icons to make things happen. The demo unit comes with an assortment of games, photo / imaging tools / apps, and being able to scrapbook and move images etc around on an even bigger scale than the iPad is certainly fun / useful, and the piano app definitely benefits from the bigger scale of unit, but I'd rather practice my scales on a piano.The sound quality is better!

All that said, it's a demo unit, so I shouldn't be too harsh, (it's just hard not to compare it to the sleek and slinky iPad), but  I think it does just underline how close we are to the extinction of the mouse and keyboard, and how touch interfaces of whatever size will force us to think  and brief differently in terms of delivering multi-sensory experiences in digital. Navigation via manipulation is going to get a few information architects scratching their heads!

I tripped over this video that kind of makes the point about the touchy feely desktop in a humorous way. Enjoy, it's Friday.

The Art of Analog Computing from meltmedia on Vimeo.

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