October 20, 2009

The Future of Touch Screens

TECHNOLOGY - On the image below you will see not a laptop, but a gaming surface for the popular roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons.

As you can see it looks like a giant iPhone, with a touch screen which allows D&D players to create maps on which they place figurines. The players then talk to discuss/roleplay their character's actions and roll dice whenever they have combat or something they have to overcome story wise that needs to be rolled randomly. The above one comes with virtual dice you can roll on the surface by flicking them with your fingers.

Usually when gamers play they use a whiteboard and markers, or possibly well-drawn out maps. Some even go overboard with figurines and dungeons tiles made out of plastic.

WHATEVER. The point is that we now have the technology to make large touch screen laptops or tablets. The actual product is called "Microsoft's Surface" and its not limited to being used for just D&D games. Indeed there is a wide range of programs now being designed to go with these touch screen tablets which will allow people to do a variety of things, not just play D&D.

Games are just one of many things you could do with it. Anything from cards to Scrabble.

But there are other applications too, such as learning to play the piano, keyboard, sort photos, watch movies (all the regular things you could do on a computer) and a huge variety of activities that hitherto would have required you to go out and buy the actual piano/etc.

The bad news? Your current laptop is now definitely obsolete. More bad news is that Microsoft's Surface currently costs about $10,000 USD because they're rare and still in the development phase, but this price will come down dramatically in 2010 when it enters mass production.

And Touch Screens evidently won't be limited to just computers. For example there is a bar that has a touch screen programmed to change colour and draw lines when people, drinks, etc are touching it. This will no doubt have advertising and banking applications too.

The technology used to make a touch screen is actually pretty cheap and easy. You can even make your own touchpad surface in a matter of minutes, but the difference is that it won't be on a screen. Because it is relatively easy to do however it means that Microsoft will have a lot of competition and the prices will no doubt drop once multiple companies get in on this and start lowering their prices to be competitive.

See Also: The Future of Phones

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