When smart device screens first appeared on the market, they were just made for viewing information and content. With the coming of easily accessible mobile internet connections, that changed almost overnight and screens became responsive touch, turning them into input devices. The first few such gadgets could only track one touch at a time, but newer screens now feature multi touch functions. Though the improvement seems only minor, the jump from simple single touch screens to screens with multi touch capability is a big one.
People were amazed when the first touch screens were introduced, even if they can only accept a single touch input of data or instruction at any one time. It made manipulating the contents of the screen much more convenient – at your fingertips actually. Touch screens became popular that a large number of them were produced, featuring the only commercially available technology back then: single touch resistive.
But people are naturally curious and innovative, and soon multiple touch screens were in the market. The new screens not only recognized multiple touch points, they also recognized gestures. These new capabilities made using touch screens a lot more convenient. For the first time users can manipulate the contents of their screens. They can zoom in or out, rotate, and move content from one place to the next. Input of such other instructions as cut, paste, delete, undo, redo, and tab became simpler.
In short, multi touch screens were a huge hit. While their initial use was limited to smart devices, tablets, laptops and computers, soon larger screens became available. The availability of large format multi touch screens led to more innovative uses. When used as multi-touch tables, they allowed people to collaborate on projects instantly and on an unprecedented level. Kiosks using the large screens gave people (and prospective clients) the ability to access information and product details with ease. Instructions and presentations became a lot easier. Even advertisements became more effective.
They say that ‘need is the mother of invention.’ In the case of large multi touch screens, increased use led to a need to the development more touches and gestures that such screens would recognize. After all, users have varied needs which, at times, need customization.
Since 2014 there are already applications which allow users to customize gestures on Windows 8 touch devices, and even export such gesture files to any gesture engine. The TouchMe Gesture Studio is one such application. It allows the user to choose from thirty different gestures and use these on multiple devices. These customized gestures can be used to switch between apps, mimic keyboard shortcuts, show the task bar, show or hide the touch keyboard, change volume and much more.
Organizations like the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative are incessantly looking for iways to advance the technology used in our touch screens. New research initiatives include one to develop technology which will allow us to feel our interactions with multi touch screens. They call it ‘tactile’ or ‘haptic’ technology. If researchers succeed, we would soon be able to ‘feel’ objects in thin air – including the ‘touch’ keyboard itself. Now that should make data entry much easier for fat-fingered people like me.