"The proliferation of touch screens in electronic devices over the past two or three years has been so rapid that you may have found yourself trying to press an on-screen button or icon when sitting at your computer only to realise, much to your frustration, that it is not a touch screen. Many mobile phones, most famously Apple’s iPhone, now have touch-screen interfaces, as do satellite-navigation systems and portable games consoles. Confusingly, however, most computers do not—so far.
But that may be about to change. Microsoft has already demonstrated a prototype of Windows 7, the next version of its flagship operating system, based around “multi-touch” capabilities, which allow a touch screen to sense more than one finger at once. As well as being able to press buttons, tap icons, call up menus and scroll windows, users will be able to rotate and stretch on-screen objects using two fingers at a time, as they already can on the iPhone. For its part, Apple is rumoured to be working on new versions of its desktop and laptop computers with touch screens. It has already taken a half-step in this direction by putting multi-touch trackpads into its laptop computers.
So the touch screen could be on the verge of becoming a standard part of computer interfaces, just as the mouse did in the 1980s. Many people thought that would never happen: surely switching between keyboard and mouse would slow people down and make them less productive? In fact, mouse-driven interfaces can be far more efficient, at least for some tasks. The same seems likely to be true of touch-screen interfaces. The touch screen will probably not replace the mouse and keyboard, but will end up being used for some tasks." (Continued via Small Surfaces, Economist.com) [Usability Resources]