Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Shifts toward touch and gestural interfaces

4/4/2012 We are likely witnessing the most dramatic shift in user interaction since the mouse. Some standard practice in traditional site design needs to be unlearned to best address the unique model of physical interaction. Where a user's hand and fingers fall as interaction occurs, the angle of contact, the arc of the elbow or wrist. All of these and more external and physical factors are considered in the layout and overall design of the system. I have found that prototyping particular interaction flows and physically interacting with them can yield some very elegant solutions. A tablet set up as second monitor* can run prototypes (on laptop) for testing. One of many notable shifts, in user interaction, is that the display state of a button or other actionable item moves from 'hover' state to a 'touch and hold' state. The action 'on mouse click' becomes action 'on touch release'. Where hover states usually display labels centered beneath, touch and hold states display labels above to account for finger and hand obscuring the screen beneath the physical point of interaction. For all of what is known, there is much left to discover. How will drivers adjust to the lack of physical knobs and buttons while piloting their vehicles? Will bendable displays deliver on their promise of more ergonomic touch displays? I'm excited to see what models of interaction will rise through the evolution of trial and error.*Screen sharing apps, like Air Display, allow your tablet to function as a second monitor.

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