Click On This, Drag That
While navigating my browser a moment ago I realized how used to pushing buttons on my computer I had gotten. It is bad enough with the mouse and with the track pad on my MacBook I feel even more like I am just moving my finger on the screen. I fully realize there are tablet PCs, iPhones, Ipod touch, PDA, and other devices with touch screens which are even more directly tactile for pressing and moving things in a virtual environment. I am not even going to get into the VR Visors, helmets, gloves, globes¹, touch tables, and performance art touch screens or the projected interaction advertising systems where you can touch an image projected on floor or wall... or the projected keyboards and screens experimented with that project keyboard and screen on any actual desk surface or tabletop. ...or did I just get into them?
The thing is we have gotten very used to manipulating virtual items. We are used to on-screen controls for things like the VCR and DVD or the Cable-box or... Even the monitors we use most often have on-screen controls even if not touch screen.
Have you ever wanted to use your remote control like a mouse on your TV screen to move things around, like to move a TV logo out of the way so you could read the important subtitle it is blocking? Perhaps you can do it right now and if not you might be able to in future. I am just making an observation about how some of the more technologically comfortable of us might be getting very comfortable with the idea of pushing virtual buttons on a web page or other piece of software. I really look forward to having an electronic desk top... not a desktop on my monitor, but a monitor surface as my desk's desk top. Of course there will be the issue of having real objects placed on top of the virtual objects and I would imagine coasters with felt bottoms would be a must. ...or coffee Verboten! Personally I think any tabletop surface intended for touchscreen monitor use, other than something for the drafts man or equivalent should be designed to cope with things like beverage or spaghetti spills.
...hmm I would imagine that a really good touch screen desk would work around things put on it. Can you imagine your information doing a word wrap around the coffee cup sitting on the desk at the moment so that none of the words end up under the cup? Well, maybe not, but the desktop software would avoid place documents under lamps or stacks of paper if possible... I can imagine the warning message:
*** Warning Desktop Is Dangerously Covered Some Documents Might Be Hidden Please Clean Desk ***
I am sure they could use one of the trademark "you done something naughty" Windows sounds for it.
¹ I wrote about a virtual reality globe the Virtusphere July 20 2008.