Monday, March 2, 2009

Joe Fletcher on Touch and Gesture Computing

Joe Fletcher from the Microsoft Surface team talks to Robert Hess about Touch and Gesture Computing.

Channel 9 - The Knowledge Chamber

He has some insightful comments about designing gestures, the advantages and drawbacks of different touch technologies, and Natural User Interface development for both Surface and Windows 7. Overall Joe has a very pragmatic approach and attitude towards touch and gesture computing.

One interesting comments (to me at least) was when Joe talked about how he works on Surface projects but also Windows 7 touch projects (5:45 mark.) He also suggests that pretty soon there will be a huge variety of touch and multi-touch hardware. This relates to my posts last weeks about the Future of Microsoft Surface (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

One very insightful comment (6:30 mark) is about how touch features with Windows 7 needs consider that not everyone will have touch hardware. Touch applications need to add to the experience, not be required for the experience. Robert points out that this is similar to the early days of the mouse when Windows provided keyboard shortcuts for everything the mouse could do as not everyone had a mouse.

He also suggests later (10:00 mark) on that the current multitouch computers (Dell XT, HP Touchsmart) have some quirks that still need to be worked out, and the hardware platform is a moving target. The advantage of Surface (and why we should be investing in Surface now!) is that it is a stable platform with many features that these other platforms will not have for a while. Surface's vision system and tag recognition is used in production application today, which Windows 7 hardware may not have that for a while.

Joe also discusses (12:45 mark) the novelty factor of touch computing. If you jump in now you can learn as you go and create relatively simple apps and people will be satisfied. Later on when people expect more advanced applications you won't be able to wow them with basic demos anymore. Pong used to be the state of the art and everyone was amazed, but today even young children expect more out of their computer games.

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