The Compenion, iPhone, and other touchy tech

“It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.”

Some of you may recognize that quote from the Academy-Award winning movie Crash. Those words that Don Cheadle spoke in the opening still resound as it shows that we miss “that touch”. I would have to agree that as a society, we tend to touch only the ones we feel close to, but it gets harder and harder to let someone be that close.

Fortunately, technology has us covered as we enter the age of touchy-feely-ness. All right, that probably isn’t the best description, but I couldn’t think of a better term for this era. I suppose it all began with museum displays and other information booths that went to all touchscreen format. It makes sense, because I can’t think of an interface simpler than that of a touchscreen. A baby can understand it: if you want something, touch it.

Now OLED screens are popping up on mobile devices such as cell phones and UMPCs everywhere. One of the reasons that the iPhone is getting so much press is because it uses a 100% touchscreen interface. Not only is everything available at a touch of a button, but the buttons have been removed entirely.

I also found a concept design for a touchscreen laptop by designer Felix Schmidberger called the Compenion. The Compenion uses sliding OLED displays that can somehow slide together instead of the usual clamshell design. Not only is the screen OLED, the keyboard is totally touchscreen. So instead of hearing the clicking of the keys, you’ll hear tapping. I’m guessing it has a touchpad or some way of moving your cursor. It might be a while before the Compenion hits the market, but something tells me not too long.

I have a hunch that touchscreens are going to take over. You know how television used to say “don’t touch that dial” before a commercial? Well, no television set made before 1990 has a dial, so they switched to saying “don’t touch that remote”. At least that saying will probably last until remotes get replaced.

My point is that just as a dial interface on a television is a sign of antiquity, the same thing will happen to our keyboards and anything else that has a button. So it will all be one big touchscreen, and we will have a whole generation of children who will see buttons as “old school”. All because we wanted to make our tech touchable.

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