Entries Tagged 'Cool Ideas' ↓

The Future of Touchscreen Computing

The other day I was looking around for some touchscreen ideas for a project I want to do and came across this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcKqyn-gUbY&feature=related (if you can’t view it, just do a search for TED multitouch desk).  Wow was I amazed, how cool.  After the this is awesome effect wore off I got to thinking.  How would someone really use this?  I mean it’s cool to zoom around google earth, and to play with fake wax, but how do you bring this to real world use?  So I decided to think about it, actually my mind decided that I would think about it as much as possible  even though I didn’t want to :) as it often likes too.

A warning to the reader.  I’m still thinking about this idea, it’s a work in progress.  Assuming my mind doesn’t move on to something else expect this article to change :).  And, if you make comments, i’ll look them over, if they change my mindset i’ll change the article accordingly and give you credit :).  If you build this solution I’ll link to you (As many times as you want :)) and be your friend :), assuming you let me critique your implementation (I’ve very picky).

Let’s jump in, starting with the basic interface.  We no longer have “windows” per say, but we have application workspaces.  This enables you to specify how much space a given application has to work with.  It appears as a wireframe outline with an X in one corner, and a small Nickel Sized circle in the other corner (the minimize button).  Hitting the minimize just pulls the wireframe and everything into the circle, which can then be left there, moved, or flicked into a minimized apps area.  Everything zooms, rotates, and drags around as expected.  You can flick things over to the edges of the screen, etc.  Applications then can deside if they want to take up the full area of their application or be mostly transparent and allow you to have cards, or whatever inside their application.

Alternative desktop feel more like current.  You have 1 giant wireframe, each window has small inner cards/shapes/whatever so if you have a todo app open that uses cards for each todo item, they are just sitting on your desktop, if you then open a website it’s just another thing on your desktop possibly stacked above or below other cards.  Each application has a small circle at the bottom of the screen to minimize it to the coin, or you can throw the window off the screen to close it (or flick it in that direction).  In this way different applications can interact with one another.  (Some thought needs to go into how to minimze/bring to front/close).

Keyboards become a combination of keyboard and cursor.  You do a gesture and a keyboard opens with a small dime sized circle above it where the cursor is.  If you drag the cursor, or keyboard to put the cursor into a place that can have input, then you can type.  This allows for multiple people to work on the same interface with their own keyboard working on the same or different documents.  Clicking on a place to type then without dragging a cursor would just open a quick keyboard there for typing.

With the idea, Full screen would be very rare.  Some items, such as websites might be, and movies generally would be, but most applications wouldn’t need it.  They have their optimal size (which is decided first by the programmer but then by the user) and reopen at this size after closing.  But applications should be designed to work within an area defined by the user completely changeable by the user as windows are now.

Menu’s become circular, so you click on an option and sub options fan out from there as needed.

You should be able to define your own Gestures, per App or global to do certain actions.  Each application should know this and provide as many “hooks” as possible to make this easier to do.

Just as the keyboard can be “brought back” a mouse can also be gestured in.  This would provide a touchpad like area for playing games in which moving the mouse around provides for an easier interface.  Programs would be able to define what their keyboard and mouse feel like and look like (games could have a set of buttons layed out the way that are best for them).

It should also be possible to have a plastic pen (not really a stylus because some people think that stylus’s are evil) that allows you to do sketching, writing, image manipulation etc.  Even these applications though should use the pen only in places where it makes more sense then a finger.  This should be as pressure sensative as possible, and should be setup to ignore the rest of that hand while drawing (so that u can still rest ur hand on the “paper”).  The other hand, should still be free to make selections, resize things, etc.  The trick is to use the interface that is the most natural.

Example Applications:

Reminder Cards - Basically a bunch of cards that you can write on and give different attributes to.  Such as remind me every monday to do the laundry, or every January remind me to do my taxes :), then, you open the program each morning and see the cards that you have to work on.  They just sit on your desk and can be skattered, gathered, or whatever.  Special cards can be put in different spots to remind you.

Shopping Lists - allow you to look through foods and drag them into ur shopping list, then when you’re ready, view ur list and print it out.

Browser - No more tabs, instead the browser is just a set of windows in the same applications, with different gestures to bring one to the front or not, tile 2 or more of them next to eachother, etc. Zoom ability and everything to change the size of pages for easier links etc.  Browsers would be heavily gesture based, but obviously everything would have to be menuable as well so that it can all be done without knowing the gesture yet.

Login - Login would be possible at any time.  You simply put your entire hand down.  Then it looks through the users and picks the person that matches that hand.  Wouldn’t be 100% secure, but would quickly be able to use preferences and whatnot for your user.  If another user is logged in then it adds you to the session.  Your documents can now be openned, and you get your own “bar” of applications, etc.  This allows you to resize your keyboard and save the settings, then when you come in you can use your own keyboard size.  Your application menu would also be the same.

The Windows Start Menu - This could simply be a coin somewhere on the screen.  Moveable to be whereever you want it to be.  Then allows you to open it and view your menu (which is circular of course :)).  When multiple people are on they would each have their own menu.