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New Computer Interface Goes Beyond Just Touch


Manual Deskterity interface

The Manual Deskterity interface includes a lot of tricks that users need to learn.

Credit: Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft researchers have developed Manual Deskterity, a computer interface that combines touch input with the precision of a pen. The prototype drafting application, designed for the Microsoft Surface tabletop touchscreen, enables users to perform touch actions such as zooming in and out and manipulating images, but they also can use a pen to draw or annotate those images.

Manual Deskterity also allows users to touch an image onscreen with one hand while using the pen in the other hand to take notes or perform other actions that pertain to that object. Users need to learn more tricks to use Manual Deskterity, but the natural user interface should ease the learning curve by engaging muscle memory. "This idea that people just walk up with an expectation of how a [natural user interface] should work is a myth," says Microsoft research scientist Ken Hinckley. The researchers also plan to adapt the interface for use with mobile devices.

Incorporating only touch input into devices is a mistake, according to Hinckley, who believes that pen and touch interactions can complement each other.

View a video of the Manual Deskterity prototype digital drafting table.

From Technology Review
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