Have you flipped a piece of paper between your flesh and fingernail as you make a decision? If you’ve ever been in an uncomfortable meeting perhaps you’ve done this; making people’s heads turn or eyes twitch as you make a tiny popping sound with a piece of paper in your hands. But this simple, awkward display, is a great example of a fundamental sense missing from all or most of computing, touch.
I have to admit, some of my purchasing decisions have been made because of the type of paper stock that was used.
I remember a few years ago selecting a car from a dealer because of the terrific brochure they had. It was dense, stark white, mostly covered with tiny dimples, but at certain spots the paper turned smooth and blue like the hood of the car they were trying to sell me. After about an hour the deal was done. I had purchased a used Toyota because of fancy paper.
Well, maybe not exactly. But, all of your senses play a significant role in your decisions, in your conclusions.
The packaging of a product often-times sells a product. Apple’s ipod wasn’t too revolutionary. Sure that dial was cool, but beyond that advanced functionality, the menu, the volume, the headphone jack, the screen everything was pretty conventional. But, it’s form, shape, and fit in the human hand were light years beyond its nearest competitors when it first came out.
With the advent of new monitors technologies like, Microsoft’s Surface or Apple’s Iphone/Ipod touch, we are in the midst of a revolution. These advances will challenge software, graphics, and interface engineers to rethink and completely erase many of the interaction conventions we take for granted. No longer should there be just 1 pointer, or one spot on the screen where the user can interact. Maybe… the mouse and keyboard will be erased by two monitors (or touchscreens) – one flat on your desk that can switch between mouse, keyboard, additional display, and one directly in front of you now that you are accustomed to.
Perhaps in the future they will add feedback through the movement of the table, monitor, or even tiny electric impulses that will simulate different responses. But I don’t know if I want to get shocked by my keyboard evertime I receive an email.