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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Computing: Reach Out and Touch Your PC

The mouse has always been a clunky input device.

Engineers at the dawn of the personal computer age knew that. Users did -- and do -- as well. We know this because ATMs, airport kiosks, cell phones and just about every other digital device that isn't a computer doesn't come with a mouse.

Modern devices use the best input device ever: your finger.

Microsoft showcased its Surface technology for Windows 7 -- the next generation of its Windows operating system -- yesterday at The Wall Street Journal's digital conference. The software company said it expects its systems to be rolled out at restaurants, hotels, retails chains and other public venues that use touch screen technologies.

But there's been a weird backlash in the press about this. Not everyone is convinced this type of technology will be an upgrade.

Of course, Nintendo faced the same skepticism when it announced its game system, the Wii, would use motion-sensors with its controllers, allowing people to control action on the machine with their entire bodies instead of pushing a button or moving a joystick.

What we know now is that Nintendo's innovative controllers have taken the mystique out of games, giving "regular people" the opportunity to play. The input device -- the controller -- is no longer confusing. If you want to play tennis on the Wii, all you have to do is swing your arm like you're hitting a tennis ball. It's easy.

The touch screen technology, already available with Apple's iPod music player, is making its way straight to music creation too. Wired News has a piece about club DJs using this technology to "spin" digital records. No more scratching vinyl records. Instead, people are using the digital touch screen to manipulate sounds in digital files.

So get ready to shed that pesky mouse and get up close and personal with your computer. Touch is the new input.

By Brad at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

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