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Something to think about... / blog
Multi-touch Goes Mainstream

Written by on September 13, 2008

I have been talking a lot about multi-touch, and I am very excited about how you can use it to directly manipulate something - as opposed to having a detached interaction. But the time for most of the wild experiments are over. We have indentified which areas that don't work very well and now multi-touch is moving into mainstream use. It has matured.

Of course we all know about the iPhone and its use of multi-touch, but take look at this newscast from CNN, where they are visually presenting the track of Ike (the hurricane) using a multi-touch screen.

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Yes, I am aware that CNN has been using multi-touch screens for about 6 months now. Also, in case you are wondering. The multi-touch system used by CNN is licensed version of Jeff Han's multi-touch screen technology

I think that we will soon move into the second multi-touch revolution. The first revolution, which we are still in now, is where this new fantastic technology emerged and it is the place for the wild experiments. It is where the most innovative companies flourished, and the source of the "buzz effect".

The second multi-touch revolution is very different. We pretty much know what we can do with it. There are still some experiments to be done, and the innovative companies will still be able to "do its magic". But the reason why people use multi-touch is no longer to get a "showoff" effect.

The second multi-touch revolution is not about marketing. It is about using this technology to:

  • make better products
  • create better experiences
  • make people more efficient
  • help people learn more easily
  • ...and sensible experiments, that fits within the above 4 points

The success criteria in the future will be about making multi-touch products that work.

But if you are into experiments, you don't have to worry. There are still tons of things to play with. The field of multi-touch combined with sensor input is still largely unexplored. Also physical multi-touch, where you can feel what you touch, is also wide open.

And the entire field of using sensors (not just accelerometers) is probably going to fuel the next interaction revolution.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.


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