In the beginning, there were computers with keyboards. If you spent some time, you recognized that the concept of a menu was just a genius act that made things so much easier. Learn the ALT-<key> combinations and you could drop down menus and have access to so much more. I’ll bet that most students in classrooms today have no idea.
Then, finances willing, you’d spring for one of those new-fangled mouse things, install a driver, calibrate the mouse reach for your screen size and away you go. Now, I would hazard a guess that you have to buy various components to physically build your own computer to actually buy a computer that doesn’t automatically come with a mouse. Then, of course, there’s the temptation to upgrade your mouse with extra buttons, scroll wheels, programmable things because you just want to be able to do so much more.
Somewhere in the mix, the laptops started incorporating a touchpad so that a mouse wasn’t needed. Then, touchpads got so much more sophisticated and you could program them to do things for you, change the way you scroll, have multi-touch, etc.
Along the way, the concept of a tablet attached to your computer allowed for a bigger tracking surface and included a stylus so that you could replicate the pencil/paper drawing experience. Then, these got better by saying, ditch the pen. Just use your finger instead. As you’ll see below, my mouse has been relegated to second citizen status in favour of my touchable tablet.
In the classroom, we’ve replicated the concept with large touch devices that students and teachers can use to manipulate the computer screen.
The whole touching timeline is so impressive. (This is a keeper)
And, it works because the hand and fingers are amazing things.
The natural question would be – what more can we do with them to make our workflow and user experience even more productive?
The answer may lie in Project Soli. Take the four minutes to watch the video below and imagine the possibilities.
Just like the original concept of the mouse, when it becomes reality, it will spring open a whole new world of possibilities. And, it’s just an amplification of something that we’re born with!
This is a definite topic for discussion with students and a chance to ask the question to them. What more could you do with your fingers if you only had the technology!
How far away are we from this?