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Previously limited to vertical market applications and exhibitions, touch-enabled hardware seems destined now to stay given the prevalence of the iPad/iPhone, touch-capable smartphones, tablet PCs, and touchscreen desktops.
The demand for haptic interactive experiences is a growing market. Touch as a new way of interacting with virtual tools, materials and environments, as well as mindless entertainment - naturally.
Touch will also boost the next evolutionary step in human-computer interface design. It has already fundamentally changed the way many of us interact with our telephones. And it could likely replace the complicated joystick/handheld controller for many games.
Even our pets are getting onto the haptic experience!
Looking beyond touchscreens, and on larger scales, there may be a growing need for not just touch walls, but multi-sensor interactive/responsive environments. Using a variety of easily-available off-the-shelf sensors (motion, infrared, lasers, pressure pads…) whole “digitally augmented” environment can be deployed for artistic, entertainment, tele-learning, tele-presence and other applications.
On a more immediate scale along the same lines – I am still looking for a way to use the Bluetooth connection between my computer and my phone to automatically lock the computer when I walk away from it – ie when the Bluetooth connection is broken.
The technology exists (cheaper and more powerful than ever before) to link the virtual with the real in increasingly intimate and intuitive ways. The opportunities lie in finding new ways to pull these disparate (software and hardware) parts together to create new value and new experiences.
This could lead to an increasing convergence of the digital media, interior and exhibition designer.