Originally Posted by johnqh
Two overrated technologies for desktop computing.
1. Speech. I can mouse around all day, but I will be exhausted after talking to the computer for 1 hour. If you have kids, you know what I mean.
My office mate uses dragon. It's much better than 20 years ago but it's technology that has been perpetually 5 years in the future. Still though, it's hardly overrated. Just a combination of misused and not quite ready yet.
2. Multi-touch. Why would I use two fingures (or even two hands) to do something I can use one fingure (with mouse) for? The best invention which made the original mouse better is the scrolling wheel. It is constant, and easy, and requires little movement.
Because direct manipulation has consistently proven to be better once it is refined enough to work reliably. For many tasks, multitouch and stylus on the desk surface (that is also a display) is superior to indirect manipulation via mouse and keyboard.
To make multi-touch work,
1. The surface has to be solid. That excludes most laptops. However, it works for iPhone and Surface computer.
Somewhat solid. You can do finger tracking for some gesture interfaces. For laptops, any multitouch UI will depend on the ability to be a convertible tablet to provide a horizontal surface to interact with.
2. The computer uses completely new UI. iPhone and Surface do that. If you add this feature to an existing UI (like Windows or Mac OS), the users will only get confused. How do you know which app supports it?
This is a given. UIs must be designed differently for multitouch. MS is not incapable of doing this.
OK, enough complains about what doesn't work. Now let's think of some workable possibilities.
Why use a surface? Use built-in iSight, detect hand gestures, and operate from that. Flip to the next page with a wave of hand. Gives a thumb-up for "OK", thumb-down for cancel. That's probably more useful than multi-touch.
Multitouch is simply one way of adding additional gestures to the computing environment. The biggest improvement comes when you take something indirectly manipulated and make it more directly manipulated and intuitutive.
Why? Because people directly manipulate physical objects all the time. We're used to it and have quite a bit of capability to do it well.
This isn't to say we're going to lose the mouse and keyboard but multitouch can provide another, more intuitive, interaction pattern for computing.
Of course, folks like you won't even bother to click the links to something like Starfire that shows how well something like multitouch can work in a desktop environment.