Hardware

Touch screens: On the rise or in a niche?

Touch screens, mostly limited to special purpose applications like PDAs and ATMs, are receiving an update and a makeover. The iPhone, Apple's take on the ubiquitous cell phone, includes a highly sensitive touch screen with the ability to filter out inadvertent touches and also to handle multiple touch input like using two fingers to resize a photo. The iPhone also recognizes "gestures," a navigation aid familiar to some Firefox users that allows a user to navigate through simple movements and button combinations. Microsoft has also entered the touch screen fray as they have started hyping "Surface" (formerly code named Milan), a tabletop sized touch screen with a myriad of possible applications.

Microsoft Surface

Touch Screens Take Over (Time)

Other applications are also arriving, with a company called TaxiTech approved by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission to provide touch screen systems that riders can use to check movie times, pay by credit card, or just surf the Web. Portable video game systems are also on the bandwagon, with the Nintendo DS providing a touch screen gaming platform. Unfortunately, many states are moving away from touch screen voting as a result of complaints, ranging from the wrong candidate being chosen to the lack of a paper trail for vote auditing.

Playing the Touching Game (Wired)

TaxiTech(TM) Approved to Provide Interactive Touch Screens (The Auto Channel)

Florida Bans Touch-Screen Voting Machines (PC World)

I am a huge fan of the touch screen. The only reason I don't have a TabletPC is that with school, kids, and a mortgage, I just don't have the money. Microsoft's Surface appears to be the device that I have wanted to use in place of a desk for years. I would love to be able to resize windows, open and arrange pictures, and otherwise control my computer with my fingers rather than a mouse. I suspect that touch screen technology will continue to drop in price and spread in availability, I hope to the point that even I can afford it.

What applications do you see on the horizon for touch screen applications? Do you see them becoming mainstream or do you think they will continue to be relegated to niche markets? What do you think of Microsoft Surface (and its $10,000 price tag)? Join the discussion.

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