Saturday, January 02, 2010

Phantom Touch

I've been meaning to write this for almost a year, so let's start the new year with this topic: TOUCH. The Midas Touch. Soft Touch. Touch a Nerve. Out of Touch. Finishing Touch. Green Thumb. Black Thumb. Left Click. Right Click.

You guessed it, today's topic is Touch. Specifically, computer input. Mouse clicks, touchscreens and buttons. Or more exactly, a worring LACK of touch I have observed over the past year.

Let's take something as simple as the mouse click. I have noticed again and again that I will click the mouse, even hear and feel the click, but nothing happens. I have to click a second time to make it happen. I have two different mice, one at the office and one at home, so I can't really blame the hardware. Furthermore, this happens with other kinds of computer input. My latest cell phone is completely a touch screen, with tactile feedback (it beeps and vibrates when you "push" one of the virtual buttons). Again, often I will "push" one of these buttons, feel and hear the feedback, but nothing happens. This isn't something that happens once in awhile, but regularly. Regularly enough to make me wonder about it, and write a blog article.

The first thing that came to mind are reports I've heard about amputees who have a phantom feeling in their missing limb (something of course I have not experienced). Or, reports of people feeling their cell phone / pager vibrate when it isn't ringing (something I have experienced). Am I imagining that I've pushed the touchscreen or mouse click? If so, that's disturbing. Has my computer developed a personality, and playing tricks with me? If so, even more disturbing! I am at a complete loss to explain this, but it continues to happen to me with alarming frequency. I am open to comments and ideas what might be going on.

Finally, let me report on the touch screen phone. These are becoming more and more popular here in Korea, and of course with the iPhone, all over the world. While I think there is room for improvement, I really like the concept. The implementation on my phone, with the vibration and audible feedback, is really well done, indeed I think almost necessary (I don't know how iPhone does it). I have heard there are some patent issues with this technology, which means some of the good techniques are limited to certain devices (two-finger zooming is one example I've heard about). One frustrating thing I have with my phone is the input keyboard isn't consistent - when you write a text message the keyboard is slightly different from the dictionary keyboard, but this is more an indictment of this phones software and not the touchscreen technology. Generally speaking, I like it and think more and more devices will be using the touchscreen input in the future. So like it or not, better get used to it.

Happy New Year all, from The Phantom Touch Stumbler

1 comment:

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