Tag Archives: touch-screen

Do Our Devices Spoil Us?

The problem with using an iPad so much is that everything becomes a touch screen. Boy oh boy am I having trouble with this lately. I keep swiping my finger across the television and poking at my MacBook screen. When nothing happens, I am momentarily confused. Then, of course, sadness sets in as I realize those particular devices don’t react to my touch the way my beloved iPad and iPhone do. Le sigh…

I believe my devices are beginning to spoil me a little too much, and I’m willing to bet you suffer from this as well. We have come to expect certain things from our gadgets. When we use one which doesn’t adhere to our new standards, we become frustrated. Often, we even decide in a geek rage that whatever it is we’re trying to use should now be considered obsolete. We then rush out to buy whatever the hottest new product offering is, even if we truly don’t need it. Is any of this sounding familiar to you?

The fact of the matter is that those slightly-older gizmos aren’t obsolete. They don’t even work THAT much differently (most of the time) than the newest “replacements” you’ll find on store shelves. Sadly, we have become so snobbish thanks to the few truly revolutionary devices that we expect nothing less of each and every piece of technology we buy. This isn’t to say that’s a completely BAD thing… we want companies to build on existing “hot” items to make things which are even better. But for us to simply expect and demand true genius to come out of each and every new item – well, that’s a bit spoiled in my mind.

Look. Your devices are fine just as they are. Your television doesn’t need touch capabilities. Your radio doesn’t have to have antennas which will tune in Tokyo. Not everything in our world has to be new and different.

If it ain’t broke…

Touch Pack for Windows 7 Now Available

The Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 was introduced to the world in May. It’s a series of games and applications designed to help people learn touch gestures in Windows 7. Microsoft announced this week that the pack is now available to download for people who have the proper equipment (Windows 7 and a touch-screen device). According to the comments thread for the announcement there are a lot of people having issues installing and using the Touch Pack.

Users are reporting that they are receiving errors when trying to install. It’s not clear whether they have the proper setup required to run this application or if it’s a problem with the installer itself. Microsoft employee Brandon LeBlanc is doing his best to answer all of the questions being thrown at him. It’s good to see that level of interaction with the people who are using the products the company is putting out.

“The Touch Pack for Windows 7 is a good way for you to be able to truly test the multitouch investments we’ve made in Windows 7. To use these games and programs, you need either a laptop with a screen that supports multitouch or a desktop PC connected to a touchscreen that supports multitouch (including all-in-one PCs with touchscreens).”

Keep in mind that your computer or monitor has to be Multi-touch capable. An older HP TouchSmart, for example, may not be able to utilize this software since it only supports up to two touches… and often only one touch. I know that my assistant Kat is unhappy that she won’t be able to use this herself, since her TouchSmart is now a 2-year-old model. If it worked for her, I’m sure she’d have done a review for us.

If you’re using a multi-touch system with Windows 7, are you going to try this out? If you do, let us know your thoughts. Did it help you to become more well-adjusted when using the various touch features? Does the Touch Pack manage to teach an old dog new tricks?

iPad vs Netbooks

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TechJohnson is a regular member of our live chat room. He recently asked if I thought that the iPad will “overtake” the market for netbooks. Keep in mind that an iPad isn’t technically a netbook before you even decide what your answer is going to be.

I happen to have both an iPad and a netbook… both purchased with my own hard-earned money. While the netbook I have certainly works, I rarely use it or take it with me anywhere. The keyboard is too small, and it’s just slow. All netbooks I’ve played around with seem to be sloooooooow. That’s not a good common denominator in my opinion.

The iPad is fast. It has a wealth of apps. You don’t have to worry about spyware or viruses. You can watch HD videos and browse the web. It’s clean and uncluttered with a great user experience.

I don’t know that the iPad is going to “kill” anything, though. It’s not a killer. It won’t displace notebooks, and it won’t displace netbooks. I do feel, however, that it has raised the bar for touch experience.

Apple doesn’t produce junk when it comes to hardware. The accessories are somewhat in question at times, but that’s better left for a different blog post. When it comes to hardware and devices, Apple definitely has it going on.

Depite all of its pros, the iPad won’t kill off iPhones or netbooks. It is a different type of device entirely.

I will go on record as saying that the iPad could possibly replace portable game consoles. I’ll go as far as to say that the iPad will triumph in mobile gaming in ways that the PSP and Nintendo DS never could. Mark my words… gaming is always the killer app. Am I wrong?

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Robots Confirm iPhone Touch Screen is the Best

Robot Touchscreen Analysis from MOTO Development Group on Vimeo.

Many of us have known for awhile that the touch screen on the iPhone is far and away the best there is. MOTO Labs (no relation to Motorola) recently tested several phones against each other, including the iPhone, Google’s Nexus One, the Motorola Droid, a Palm Pre, an HTC Droid Eris, and a BlackBerry Storm 2. The robots tested the phones by using the SimpleDraw application, and the iPhone won by a landslide. The Nexus One came in a very distant second place.

The test was done using a 7mm robotic “finger” to represent a “medium touch”. The test was repeated using a 4mm robotic finger to represent a “very light” touch. In both tests, the iPhone was found to have straight and accurate lines. The iPhone did show a slight weakness at the edge of the panel with the light touch. MOTO stated that the Nexus One gave a “solid performance,” but just didn’t measure up to the iPhone. The worst performance came from the Motorola Droid, which had significant waviness with the medium-touch test, and dropped signal often during light-touch testing.

MOTO made a point of saying that a touch panel alone doesn’t make a “good” smart phone. The screen must also perform well when combined with the phone’s operating system to ensure a maximum level of responsiveness.

I didn’t need robots to tell me this. I’ve known for quite a while that my iPhone outperforms any other smart phone I have tested to date when it comes to the ease of use on the touch screen. It just plain WORKS. That, my fellow Geeks, is what it’s all about at the end of the day. We have things to do, and we need to use what works.

An eReader That Looks Like a Big iPhone

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Shenzhen Million-E Culture Industrial Co. Ltd. is showing a new e-reader based on e-ink with built-in 3G, WiFi and even with resistive touch screens.

This video was filmed by Charbax during the CeBIT 2010 consumer electronics show in Hannover, Germany.

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Capacitative 6" e-reader prototype by Sagem Wireless at Mobile World Congress 2010

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This is the first 6″ e-reader with a capacitative touch screen, it enables it to be much more compact than the Kindle as text input can be done on the touch screen. Although this is an early prototype demonstrated by Sagem Wireless at Mobile World Congress. The feature of using a capacitative touch screen on the e-reader does not remove from the readability of the screen and allows for finger touch screen input through the interfaces. A capacitative stylus input may also be supported. This device will include 3G and WiFi wireless data modems.

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What is a Microsoft Courier?

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The first screencast that Joseph did for us was a big hit within the community. It seems you all love his style! I happen to like it quite a bit, as well. It’s different – and it’s fun! Today, Joseph is talking to us about his love of technology, and his reaction to the new Microsoft Courier. What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment with the video, or even make a follow-up screencast of your own!

On paper, Courier looks like it would be an innovative device, with some awesome features. It’s main function will purportedly be a day-planner / notebook that lets you keep track of things like appointments and to-do lists. Also, Courier is supposedly going to be more flexible than the rumored Apple Tablet, in that you can create original drawings and sketches using something like Microsoft Paint. You can use it to snap pictures, take notes, browse the Web, and clip things you want to keep from websites.

In addition, the rumored Courier will have two 7-inch screens, with a flexible hinge in between them. This allows the device to close like a book. The two screens could both accept handwriting from a stylus, or multi-touch input from your fingers. It wouldn’t have a keyboard of any type… it would rely completely on handwriting recognition!

Joe says he recently had a dream that he had a pocket computer that included dual touch-screens. Instead of buttons, the entire face was a multi-touch screen. He felt this was too good to be true, and knew it may just be a dream after all.

However, after hearing about the Microsoft Courier, Joe began to feel that perhaps that dream is coming true. Again, all of the above information about the Courier is based on supposedly leaked rumors. Joe is excited that maybe we will see something like this coming out in the near future. He is keeping his eyes open and his wallet at the ready… just in case!

Thanks, Joe, for an informative – and hilarious! – screencast! Great work!

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Have You Met Your Online Friends in Person?

I meet up with many people on a regular basis, thanks to things like Tweetups and conferences. Not everyone is so lucky, though. Often, deep and lasting friendships are formed online, but the people involved never have a chance to meet face-to-face. Many people maintain that it’s easier to make a strong connection with someone online, since you don’t have the fears and anxieties associated with how you look, or how you come across in person. Also, people tend to be more open about themselves when they are behind a computer screen, instead of hiding who they really are – and what they really think.

Have you ever met any of your online friends? How did it go? Was the friendship and connection as strong in person as it was while you were on the Internet? I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on this. I know that we have community members who met online, and later ended up engaged or married. I’m interested in seeing how many real friendships have sprung up, as well!

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I recently attended the WTIA Fast Pitch Forum & Technology Showcase. The conference featured two dozen of the of the hottest technology companies in Washington presenting their business in a competition for “Best In Show”. Swype presents to you a way to type blindingly fast on any touch-screen device.

Swype provides a faster and easier way to input text on any screen. By swiping your finger or stylus across the screen keyboard, you can input words faster and easier than with any other data input method… even at over 50 wpm! Trace your finger in a path across the keys needed to make your word. There’s no need to be very accurate, which allows for super-fast text entry.

The application is designed perfectly to work across any touch-screen devices, such as phones, tables, game consoles, televisions and more.

Thank goodness for an application like Swype. Do you have any idea how much time this can save you?!

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How Do You Interact with Your Technology Today?

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I received an email from Kevin recently, telling me about a very cool new piece of software he’s found. He writes: “I have found a program to show you and the community. It is called Camspace by CamTrax Technologies. Camspace is a freeware program that lets you play your video games by using any object. All you need is a Windows PC (Mac and Linux systems coming soon), a webcam , lots of light, a wide variety of solidly-colored objects to use as controllers, and a desire to play any game you want with Camspace. There are games for Camspace and there are controllers for games popular computer games. It is right now in open beta. If there is not a virtual controller available for download, you can make your own.”

So, I of course had to go check this out. What you do is download the software and use controllers to play games or interact with other software, like Google Earth. You don’t have to touch anything. You just move objects around in front of your webcam.

Drive your racing car with a cardboard wheel or fly your aircraft with a plastic stick – using CamSpace. The CamSpace agent will automatically find emulations for your favorite games and let you try and choose your pick of the lot.

CamSpace comes loaded with CamGames and the list is growing on a daily basis. CamGames are games developed on the CamSpace platform which take full advantage of the CamSpace agent capabilities. Play soccer, popcorn, xylophone, navigate Google Earth and many other CamGames from the CamSpace website or directly from the CamSpace agent.

How cool is it that these days, we can touch things if we have a computer or device that is built to be used with touch? Pretty soon, we’ll never need to rely on a keyboard or mouse to move things, or enter in data. The importance of these things will be further minimized as we evolve more with these experiences. Input/output is still basic, but it’s got to be fluid, and it’s got to fit.

I’m interested in hearing your experiences with Camspace. If the game isn’t there you’d like to play, then create a controller for it! It’s available for Windows so far, with Mac and Linux support promised soon. Let me know what you think of it.


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