Interface Design – Touch-Screen Interfaces

Another interesting area of innovation in interface design is in touch-screen interfaces. By now the news of Apple’s iPhone or iPod Touch products is no longer news, but the wave of touch-screen interfaces has only just begun to struck popular culture and gain media attention.

Perhaps the most well known development in the area of touch screen technology meant to achieve heavy use is http://www.microsoft.com/surface/. As a combined display/interface technology, it certainly does a lot to bring a new facet of interactivity to human-computer interaction. Though it may not be as tremendous a departure from typical mouse/keyboard interfaces operating off of a desktop metaphor when compared to brain-computer interface technologies and the non-analog methods of control they provide, the touch-based interaction that Surface provides is certainly a step forward. And with some of the specific interface designs that the Surface development team has implemented such as seamless transferral of data such as images or songs to portable devices like cellular phones or cameras placed directly on the surface, they have made tremendous strides in the realm of interface design. Of particular note is the aforementioned manipulation of cell phones and cameras, and the tremendous number of possibilities surface could provide. It may offer up interesting new ways to deal with data as well as serve as an interesting entertainment piece; just imagine playing board games or painting virtually on a surface that is capable of saving the state of a work of art or game without requiring set-up or clean-up. It is a tremendous innovation – and hopefully one that will see widespread use before long. Below are some videos illustrating some of the uses Surface’s development team has imagined for the technology.

Possibilities promo piece:

Commercial Surface preview:

Popular Mechanics look at Surface:

Lastly, an interesting look at Surface’s use of physical objects to create a sort of video jigsaw puzzle:

Similar to Surface is another touch-screen technology made by KsanLab – a company dedicated to creating User-Generated Content tools. Their prototype interface, Touch Me Tender, is very similar to Surface but perhaps just slightly less robust. It does provide photo manipulation and painting tools, however, and seems like it could well be marketed as a cheaper alternative to Surface.

Finally, another similar interface for music creation and mixing is reacTable – a touch-screen based table that incorporates objects into its interface design to allow individuals to intuitively interact with music given visual feedback and physical tools for the interaction. It lacks the overall commercial viability or the scope to impact daily life to the extend that Surface and Touch Me Tender do, but it serves as an encouraging example of the widespread adaptation of this new technology and a very innovative new use and design.

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~ by kevinappel on December 13, 2007.

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