Take the 2-minute tour ×
User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Apple has fallen in love with it, all the smartphone-vendors use it, Microsoft is aiming for it with Windows 8.

But is touch the ultimate device?

Some people will probably answer this question with gestures Kinect-style as a better approach, but gestures nor touch are pixel perfect. Our finger pads can't be smaller than their physical size - or is there a touch solution to this problem as well?

share|improve this question
2  
The ultimate device is the one you don't need; e.g., a Kindle is the ultimate bookshelf. –  Patrick McElhaney Sep 27 '11 at 13:19
    
Nothing is the ultimate device until singles from my brain make my every wish come true. So I guess I'm saying insanity is the ultimate device. –  Ben Brocka Sep 27 '11 at 13:20
1  
Touch isn't a device, it's a method of interaction. So you should be asking "are touch-based devices the ultimate devices?" in which case, no, of course not, because we haven't made HAL 9000 or the Star Trek onboard computer yet. –  Rahul Sep 28 '11 at 8:35
    
Here's a good article on an instance where touch may not be the right solution. ignorethecode.net/blog/2011/09/29/machine_for_reading_books –  Patrick McElhaney Oct 4 '11 at 14:58
    
No. I dislike touch, but that's not relevant here. One of the most common tasks is to write text on a computer. Touch screen keyboards leave A LOT to be desired. –  Anonymous Dec 9 '11 at 13:25
show 2 more comments

7 Answers 7

up vote 4 down vote accepted

It is not the ultimate device, until someone invents transparent fingers. ;)

I believe that it depends on the specific application. For some applications a mouse is better than a touch screen. Image you would have to touch your PC's screen. For other applications touch screens are perfect and for some applications speech recognition is better. For a game, a joystick could be superior.

I don't think there is 1 ultimate device.

You say that "our finger pads can't be smaller than their physical size - or is there a touch solution to this problem as well?"

In fact I am amazed by the precision of the iPhone's touch screen (and probably Android devices as well, I don't want to start a war here). When browsing a non mobile website on it, it becomes clear how precise the touch position is determined. Even if I need to click links that are very close to each other and each is a lot smaller than my finger, somehow it always seems to select the correct link. Not that this is perfect but I would not consider the size of the finger as an important shortcoming. It certainly works much better than touching the screen with a little pen.

share|improve this answer
2  
+1 for there is no single ultimate device. Different devices and input formats are better for different tasks. I, for one, do not want to have to try typing a thesis using gestures - a keyboard is far easier. –  Schroedingers Cat Sep 27 '11 at 13:53
add comment

One example that speaks to how it can be used well: With Kids

Many people where I work have told me how their 3-5 year old doesn't use the computer because it is big and clunky, the keyboard is hard to use and the mouse not really intuitive.

A tablet or smart phone with touch on the other hand is something the immediately "get". They use them fluently. I am sure many who read this have similar stories. Kids love touch.

share|improve this answer
    
Well, you should try to write an e-mail on you touch phone with a 1 year old kid on your lap. Curious fingers all over the place are definitely not for the benefit of the touch device. –  Jørn E. Angeltveit Sep 28 '11 at 10:34
    
Haha! So true, I'm happy they don't need to write emails at that age. I'm even a little inclined to not let my kids play with tablets until a little later age. Although I am not sure if what would set them back in comparison to others. –  JeroenEijkhof Sep 30 '11 at 15:01
add comment

It all depends on the task you are trying to accomplish and the user needs. The proliferation of touch sensitive devices has opened up new ways of interacting. In some cases touch can improve the experience (it could be more intuitive). In others it could be a hindrance (for example typing).

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your first question has already been answered--there is no such thing as an ultimate UI. Touch is merely yet-another UI option that is really great for a lot of device types. But we'll still have keyboards, mice, and many other types of UI hardware.

Our finger pads can't be smaller than their physical size - or is there a touch solution to this problem as well?

I have seen a solution in a lot of image editing software on iOS that is borrowed from (at least, it's where I saw it first) PhotoShop. When pixel-perfection is required, a small inset window appears with the area that you are touching magnified maybe 10x. This solves two issues: 1) it lets you interact at the pixel level (which is really tough on a retina display without zoom) and 2) it lets you see what's under your finger.

share|improve this answer
add comment

The ultimate device is one that does what I want it to do without my having to think about it. I suspect we are a few years away still :)

share|improve this answer
    
Isn't that a contradiction? When you want something, you think about it, don't you? –  Bart Gijssens Sep 27 '11 at 11:31
1  
But I want what I don't even know what I want yet :) –  JohnGB Sep 27 '11 at 12:06
    
That's called marketing. ;) –  Bart Gijssens Sep 27 '11 at 12:29
1  
@BaGi: I realise that I want a coffee. It should have arrived at least a minute before I thought that :P –  JohnGB Sep 27 '11 at 12:35
    
In other words, psychology will become more and more important! :) –  Bluewater Sep 27 '11 at 13:34
add comment

There will never truly be the ultimate device. Everyone views each type of device differently. Hence why we are in the middle of the tablet wars, and when that dies down something else will rise to take its place. But we are in the middle of the paradigm shift as people start to move away from GUI and we move toward the NUI (Natural User Interface) standard.

share|improve this answer
add comment

An article from Zurb, while going more and more towards hand interaction we cannot forget about other types of interactions. http://www.zurb.com/article/850/the-future-of-interaction-design-our-hand

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.