At CES this year everything is touchscreen, TV, laptops, tablets and kitchen appliances. Is the future of interfaces is moving to touchscreen? Is this the end of keyboards? We are seeing a completing transition in the design of user experiences to software based and touchscreens. The notebook computer is the final piece of the migration. Most people would find no reasons to touch a screen on a laptop or notebook, but we are also increasing used to the habit of touching screen even most of the time even we’re not aware of. Thanks to the iPhone and iPad.
Our view will change even when we don’t think touchscreens on laptops are useful; just see someone use a keyboard with an iPad or Galaxy. For many, it just feels more natural to touch the screen. I sometimes find myself touching the screen forgetting that it is not a touchscreen device.
Blackberry will join it even they will still keep the keyboard as an option for people like me. Automobile entertainment will move there too. Your next laptop will likely be touchscreen and you might not have any choice, whether you like it or not. I wonder when will Apple launch a touch screen macbook? I think it is only a matter of time before all laptops become touch-enabled. LG was showing a prototype of interactive retail display so you can try differetn outfits without going into the changing room.
With touchscreens, we will never worry about spilling coffee onto your keyboard but will have to deal with the problems of greasy fingers. I think touch will become the key user experiences but there is still a lot of room for innovation. Touch-enabled devices will accelerate adoption in the enterprise market and next will be education market. The next generation of workers will forget what a physical keyboard looks like.
Hong Tan, a professor at Purdue University who works for Microsoft came up with an interesting way to add the feel of buttons and other physical controls to a touch screen by using vibrating piezoelectric actuators installed on the side of a normal screen generate friction at the point of contact with a finger. The nice thing about the innovation is it can make an ordinary sheet of glass feel as if it has physical buttons or even a physical slider with different levels of resistance. That is a bug jump forward from just touchscreens. The haptic feedback could help users find the right control on compact or enable the use of a touch screen without needing to look at it.
RIM is working really hard to win this. They called it a “writing without typing”, a technology only apply to the keyboardless Blackberry London devices. This is a riksy bet as Blackberry loyalist (like me) likes typing on physical keyboards rather than tapping on a screen. I am eager to get my hands on the new Blackberry London... a few weeks I will know if that works for me.