Multi-touch is cool, but …

May 16, 2008 by Dave Haynes


I bumped into yet another post and accompanying video about multi-touch touch screen applications that allow users to manipulate things on a screen without a mouse or keyboard.

Yet again, it’s all very cool to look at and if you have happy feet, the video like all the others has some slightly-dated techno track thumping away as the demo guy wiggles and squiggles things with his hands.

From what I read people are very excited about this as an application, and some writers are suggesting this is where public, interactive screens are headed.

Well … maybe.

But will someone please include something useful in one of these demos! The commercial possibilities for digital finger-painting are pretty much limited to the under 6 crowd, and even they’d rather use the real stuff so they can splatter their clothes and everything else in a three-block radius.

The stretching and shrinking pictures thing is nice, but to what end? Same with the zooming in and out of Google satellite imagery.

Now, if there is one of these things at a subway station and I’m there, in an unfamiliar city, standing there desperately trying to locate a bar that serves Harp on tap, and I can use this sort of thing to sort through bars, tell me where I am and what train to take and when to get off, and send me the address to my cellphone, then we’re talking.

Enough of the finger-painting, guys. Get a Flash design partner to do up a quick and dirty interface, and show something useful. THEN you’ll get some real interest, and maybe some business. Granted, the people promoting these things are often just students or developers doing side projects, but I’d be surprised if many of them don’t have designs on making money off their work.

The Microsoft Surface thing may be limited because it is a table, uses DLP projection and costs as much as a Hyundai, but at least they had the smarts (and albeit lotsa money) to hit the marketplace with something that had commercial use.

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