Touchy feely (10gui)

10 gui is an attempt to rethink the GUI, particularly mouse operation, based on a touch-based input device. Instead of touch screens, they use a separate touch-pad (like an artist’s tablet).

Their GUI makes me squirm a little: it’s not what I’m used to, but I can just about see it. The Amiga user in me wishes they used vertical panning instead of horizontal…

I just don’t think it goes far enough. The paradigm shift we need is a two-way, touch-based input device. “Touch” is a two way interaction. It is both an application and a sensing.

What the tablet needs is tactile output: the ability to raise pixels on its surface — like a Haptic Reader.

What I’m talking about is a tablet surface capable of raising “pixels” slightly so that you can form simple lines, edges, surfaces, textures. Our fingertips are incredibly good at feeling that kinda detail.

Consider 10gui’s fader example. If my input tablet can produce subtle surface changes that outline the faders for me, I don’t need them to be displayed on-screen. The same device can now double as a keyboard for touch typists. Non-touch typists can use an on-screen keyboard display and be spared that akward hunt-the-key that makes them look away for the screen. Blind users will be able to interact with a computer just as efficiently as sighted users.

And since it is a “soft” keyboard, no language issues! The user can use whatever layout suits them, can have the keys organized in any way they like.

I think 10gui is on to a good start, but I think the real winning concept is going to be that last step of providing feedback through the input device.


Hot damn, that is a really really good idea!

Just a few quick thoughts running with it, e.g. take a page of text such as your blog post above:

– for viewing, hyperlinks could be mounds raised up higher than normal text so that they are easy to find and “push”

– for editing, moving vertically/towards user causes each line of text to be represented as a horizontal ridge, while white areas are flat

– when moving horizontally causes each word on the current line to be represented by vertical ridges, with spaces being flat

Maybe they are crap examples, but your idea that “‘Touch’ is a two way interaction” makes perfect intuitive sense.

Yeah – when you think about it, it’s so obvious. You don’t need to see “past” your fingers; they’re amongst the best damn sensory organs in your body! They “see” through feel. So make the input device talk directly to them.

I don’t think your examples are crap: they underline just how perfect a feedback mechanism it would be. People who can’t touch type often find that switching to an ergo-keyboard (with the split in the middle) helps immensely. Laptop manufacturers often put little marks on the keyboard to help people find the center keys.

Tactile feedback touch devices /has/ to be /the/ next big thing in human-device interaction.

FYI: What I’m suggesting is that 10gui be based around a haptic IO device rather than a simple input device.

That is exciting stuff, Rickb. I’d heard that some mobiles in Japan could already take pics and interpret those square-shaped barcodes.

Ah well, the more awesome the idea, the more certain you can be that someone else has thought of it already (and that some smart-ass will happily crush you with a link to it :P).

Pretty cool. Must ave feedback. heh

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[…] August 12, 2010 kfsone Leave a comment Go to comments I said before that I thought that the next important progression in the develop of touch-screen devices was the […]

[…] in 2009 and 2010 I described how I felt touch screens needed to adopt something like the technology used […]

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