Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Any public health people out there thinking this is a bad idea?

Via PhysOrg:
The computer mouse may someday become an endangered species. Instead of rolling a mouse around to move a cursor around on the screen, more and more users will gesture with their fingers on touch screens and multi-touch trackpads, analysts say.


"The demise will be hastened by the move toward 3D environments, which encourage a more complex range of movements to move around, and by the growth of multimedia applications and manipulation, which encourage a more natural user interface," he said.

Already, Hewlett-Packard makes a TouchSmart personal computer with a touch-screen monitor. Apple's new laptop computers have trackpads that support gestures with two, three or four fingers. And the upcoming Microsoft Windows 7 will also support multi-touch.


A glimpse of the future can be found at the Microsoft Technology Center in Manhattan, where visitors can get their hands on a Surface table.

The Surface computer, which debuted for commercial use in July, has a 30-inch screen on which users can tap, drag, spin and zoom in and out with their fingers or an object such as a paint brush.
I personally think that my labmate had it right when he said, "That will be a great way to spread germs." True, if you let a person who is all germ-y touch your keyboard or mouse, you will likely to pick up those germs yourself. No difference from a touch-screen, right? Well, let's think about it. How many times have you been sitting there, and someone is trying to explain something on the screen to you? It's a pain in the butt to move out of the way and let the other person sit in the chair to operate the keyboard and mouse. (And if you are all phobic about germ contamination, you are not likely to let them sit and touch your keyboard and mouse.) However, if the screen is the interface... (Don't you have hands-y labmates or co-workers who come over and actually touch your monitor? Think now how often they will do it when it's touch-screen!)

I'm waiting for the studies to come out on how sanitary people's touch-screens are, how much of disease vector they might become, etc. (These dissertations and theses don't just write themselves, you know!)

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