Buxton has also been working for quite some time on a book on input devices that's sure to become an essential resource for HCI researchers once it's finished: Human Input to Computer Systems: Theories, Techniques, and Technology. It contains much useful material even in its draft form.
From a PC Magazine recap of iPhone updates:
Data entry tweaks:
Though the touch keyboard still takes getting used to, Apple has been
refining the typing experience. Now, if you press two keys down at
once, it will type them in the order you pressed them. Hitting the
space bar twice inserts a period and a space as well.
Touch is tiring in space.
Abstract from "Touchscreen Usability in Microgravity" by Jurine A. Adolf and Kritina L. Holden, Proceedings of the CHI 96 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems:
Touchscreen technology is well-suited for extreme environments, for example, microgravity. However, the usability of touchscreens has not been tested in this environment. The Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory (HFEL) at the NASA Johnson Space Center has conducted three evaluations of touchscreen usability both in a simulated weightless environment and on a space shuttle mission. Preliminary findings suggest that touchscreens were preferred for those tasks with larger touch areas, but not for precise positioning. Not anticipated though was the hand fatigue experienced by astronauts. Complete results will be available.
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Dan Saffer is writing a book on the design of gestural interfaces. From the web site for the book:
What the book is about: Nintendo’s Wii and Apple’s
iPhone have introduced the public to the power and grace of using
gestures to control devices and interactive systems. But how exactly do
you design for this new interaction paradigm? It isn’t like designing
for traditional websites or software, but until now, there has been
little written about these new interfaces, which will only grow in
number and variety over the next few years.
Designing Gestural Interfaces will examine current patterns and
trends in this new area, discussing emerging patterns of use, a
taxonomy of human gestures, how to design and document interactive
gestures, an overview of the technologies surrounding touchscreens and
interactive environments, communicating to users how to use these new
systems, and ways to prototype gestural interfaces.
Jenn Lee at Pocketables reviews the Samsung YP-P2 media player. Some excerpts regarding the touchscreen:
Navigation on the P2 is almost exclusively handled by the touchscreen,
which is pretty well executed though not quite as responsive or fun to
use as on the iPhone or iPod touch. Swiping, flicking, and tapping with
the finger all come into play, as does an intuitive circular turn
Dedicated volume buttons are on the left. The volume can also be
controlled by sliding your finger or thumb up/down the touchscreen,
starting from the middle right side, but I find its responsiveness to
be a bit sketchy. It's faster and more accurate for me to use the
hardware controls. [...]
The interface is well designed and easy enough for anyone to just
pick up and use, but using the touchscreen can sometimes be a bit of a
nuisance (and not just because it's a magnet for fingerprints and
smudges). Responsiveness is the biggest issue for me, as there is often
a slight delay between a finger tap and the system's action.
Another problem is that double-tapping is required where
single-tapping should suffice. Each menu contains a list of items
(Settings, for example, includes menu style, sound, display, language,
time, and system), but tapping on any of them only highlights the item. A second tap is needed to actually select it. Just to find and play a single song, then, takes a total of five screen taps (one on the Music icon in the main menu, two on the "Songs" list within the music menu, and two on the individual song).
Link: Samsung P2 (YP-P2) (Pocketables.net)
Via Interface Love. Image from Samsung.com.
Amidst a list of somewhat dubious predictions is this one (possibly also dubious):
The rise of touch-screen
is the biggest revolution in interface technology since the invention
of the mouse. The iPhone was the must-have gadget of 2007, and its
ability to recognise and react to sophisticated finger gestures is just
the beginning. Arguably inspired by Ridley Scott's 2002 film Minority
Report, in which Tom Cruise's character uses hand gestures to
manipulate information, the touch-screen will be at the heart of 2008's
top gadgets. Google and Microsoft are investing heavily in touch-screen
research. Microsoft plans to launch its multi-touch Surface system, a
rather pricey $10,000 (£5,000) table for shops and restaurants, which
allows users simply to touch the surface to order items from the menu
or to settle the bill at the end of a meal. And Google's new mobile
phone development platform, Android, will let programmers make
extensive use of a touch-screen interface. The iPhone is also due for
an update early in the year.
Link: Predictions for 2008.
See also: Phone makers seek right touch (TheStreet.com)
You've probably already seen this on YouTube... The "Fentix Cube" by Andrew Fentem. From the BBC:
A small plastic cube with playful lights, it could be
mistaken for a mass market throwaway toy manufactured by the million in
the Far East.
But the colourful exterior masks a combination of
innovative technologies that have propelled Apple's iPhone and
Nintendo's Wii to huge success this year.
The cube contains a large battery, an array of LEDs and
crucially three accelerometers which can detect the pitch and yaw of
the device, and sensors on the inside surface for touch control.
Mr Fentem says: "You instinctively know how to use it.
The way you understand the world as a young child is through physical
and spatial awareness, up or down. It's how you learn and communicate."
The cube is not for sale yet, but he hopes to have it available by next Christmas. See also AndrewFentem.com.
Photo from BBC.com.