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  • How Touch Will Make Everything Better

    image via OpEdNews.com

    In the wake of intriguing hints about a new multi-touch keyboard from Apple and a similar product from Microsoft, pundits and observers have been speculating about our brave new virtual-keyboardin' future.

    Mike Elgan at Computerworld wrote a clever essay about some key reasons why on-screen keyboards will be better than the boxes-with-rows-of-buttons that have been the input method of choice since the days of Apollo 13:

    1. Customizability
    Virtual keyboards will allow for a really broad array of different layouts, from Dvorak to chorded to anything the mind can imagine. It'll also allow users of ideographic languages like Chinese to devise more efficient ways to input chatacters.

    2. Haptics
    Although not included in the patent application by either Apple or Microsoft, the technology of haptics - extremely subtle tactile clues, RumblePak-type vibrations that tell your fingers where they are and what's going on - is coming into its own at the same time. When playing a pinball game on a prototype tablet made by Immersion Corporation, a user was able to "feel a metal ball rolling on a hard surface." This technology will allow for much more detailed interactivity in things beyond the world of gaming.

    3. Speed
    Elgan asserts that predictive typing - the auto-complete feature that replaces a popular expletive with the word "duck" in the iPhone's default dictionary - will increase in sophistication and accuracy. He also notes that the absence of a lag for keys to be depressed, as well as integrating cursor control in the same surface as the keyboard will add up to a leap in speed one users become accustomed to them.

    4. Cleanliness.
    Keyboards have 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Nuff said.

    5. Upgradability
    With the right adaptor, you can use an XT keyboard on your new Alienware box. That keyboard, though, has the same functionality as when it was new in 1985. Virtual keyboards can be modified and extended by firmware upgrades and hacks, and that will allow for innovation through experimentation.

    6. Bigger screens
    Finally, the fact that a visual keyboard can appear and disappear when needed means that the entire screen will become a touch surface in applications like graphics and gaming... and your entire desk can potentially be the computer desktop.

    We don't know what directions touch technology will take computing in years to come. The beauty of it, though, is that it's potentially limited by nothing but the imagination. Instead of being locked into a technology that was intentionally set up to make us type slower, the keyboards of the future can be cleverly designed to - literally in some cases - get out of our way.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: How Touch Will Make Everything Better started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 25 Comments
    1. smiska2's Avatar
      smiska2 -
      what's the point?
    1. Gustavo Saliola's Avatar
      Gustavo Saliola -
      I'll be great. Just think about "moving things" on the screen, not just a mouse or a Wacom pen (Sorry "Cintiq", game is over, slow down your prices). Times of intearctivity are so close now. I'll be just about creativity put on soft design, no limits.
    1. santaf's Avatar
      santaf -
      i'm down with just a normal keyboard a big keyboard on touch using home row just not sure how that will feel it'll be weird. also isn't the picture used not touch screen? it was just like finger motions or am i not remembering correctly?
    1. chstriker11's Avatar
      chstriker11 -
      the point of what? virtual keyboards? the future!! minority report was actually right about this! this is the future! transparent all-in-ones! this is what the future of computers will be, and i'm stoked! bring on the new-age technology!
    1. seann33uk's Avatar
      seann33uk -
      fact that minority report actually moved past the TOUCH bit because it was all about gestures and movement of the hand and fingers. where as touch would always be about a physical thing with the system.
    1. smiska2's Avatar
      smiska2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by chstriker11 View Post
      the point of what? virtual keyboards? the future!! minority report was actually right about this! this is the future! transparent all-in-ones! this is what the future of computers will be, and i'm stoked! bring on the new-age technology!
      Rubbish!

      The future will be voice controls, virtual keyboards and the like are just stop gap products.
    1. awesomeSlayer's Avatar
      awesomeSlayer -
      Apple went way too far on touch devices. Using a touch keyboard for gaming? I don't think so.
    1. Xagest's Avatar
      Xagest -
      Quote Originally Posted by pauldanielash View Post
      Wouldn't touch just make monitors just as disgusting?
    1. The Maestro's Avatar
      The Maestro -
      Your articles are poorly implemented with current news it's like you find one relevant thing and try to fill your "poem" with improvised details deriving from opinion. I'm sorry bro I just liked coming here to learn what apples up to but that's changed with you new writers.
    1. TheArthurShock's Avatar
      TheArthurShock -
      Ironic. Computers used to take up entire walls and we've just spent all this time trying to get them to be smaller. Now they are, I can't think of anything i want more than a touch screen computer that would take up one of my walls.
    1. mikerlx's Avatar
      mikerlx -
      The iphone is the best we are going to get in the 21st Century. Maybe the itablet will be bigger but will continue the basic functionality of the iphone no matter what size the itablet comes in or OS by apple. I think the ipod touch will eventually replace out all the ipod nano and ipods. I think the Macbook Air will be the new Macbook and completely replace the plastic white updated future models.
    1. mdc929's Avatar
      mdc929 -
      interesting..
      the bacteria thing is nasty though.
      cant wait to see what the future holds
    1. Melech518's Avatar
      Melech518 -
      Give the guy a break and STAY ON TOPIC please. If you do not have anything to say about the virtual keyoard or the Apple tablet then do not comment.

      I think this is very exciting and adds to the hype of the expected Apple Tablet.
    1. keysloser's Avatar
      keysloser -
      An article well written is always appreciated.

      Speculating our brave new virtual-keyboardin' future, may or may not turn to be what actually happens but it surely is fascinating...

      I can't help but imagine a virtual photoshop palette and tools on the screen...
      Really hope touch technology goes in that direction.
    1. HungryHungryNico's Avatar
      HungryHungryNico -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Maestro View Post
      Your articles are poorly implemented with current news it's like you find one relevant thing and try to fill your "poem" with improvised details deriving from opinion. I'm sorry bro I just liked coming here to learn what apples up to but that's changed with you new writers.
      Wow. You have a problem with him using current news? He certainly isn't going to use past news. Never heard of future news. Unless whatever he says comes true. That would be interesting. As a writer, he should give his opinion. Especially if he gives details as of why, which can help us understand the article. You liked coming here to learn about what Apple is up to. Funny, that's what the article is about.

      Anyway, interesting to hear the news of this. It's exciting to think about what the future holds.
    1. mattharris85's Avatar
      mattharris85 -
      Contrary to what some idiots have said before me, I think this will be amazing. I've often dreamed about a virtual keyboard/computer
    1. mikerlx's Avatar
      mikerlx -
      My thoughts on a virtual keyboard is it could happen but I doubt apple will produce it. There are still the physical keyboard preference over the iphone basically virtual keyboard, so if there is a virtual keyboard there will always be a demand for physical in the world marketplace. Exciting for any and all innovation from the Apple company.
    1. viperstarpoint9's Avatar
      viperstarpoint9 -
      What is the point of a touch screen keyboard? Well if you use any graphical interface using things like Photoshop or After Effects will become a lot easier. I for one am looking forward to the extra real estate when it come to programs like that.
    1. reznor9's Avatar
      reznor9 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Xagest View Post
      Wouldn't touch just make monitors just as disgusting?
      no.. you can clean glass much easier than a normal keyboard.
    1. keatonec's Avatar
      keatonec -
      I hpoe that this happens. It would be so cool. Especially if they did the did the gestures thing. I thought that there was a keyboard where it was a laser and it came of a projector in front of your hands. I think I saw am email come around about it.