Re: Multi-Touch Screen Monitors

Subject: Re: Multi-Touch Screen Monitors
From: Kenneth Newby (
Date: Wed Oct 26 2005 - 14:20:02 EDT

MaxMSP single pixel moves I do all the time: lining up patch-cords in
complex patches, adjusting the size of objects to fit nicely together
when many are lined up either horizontally or vertically. I work with
systems that involve multiple objects of the same type that need to be
resident in the same patcher window so this comes up all the time.

I've also found that a pen-based approach works very well. You get the
accuracy you need and the use of a pen provides more gestural freedom
than the mouse. Programmable buttons and tapping patterns are also
very useful for speeding up and focussing the workflow for specific
applications. I recall crashing through a huge set of speech edits in
a very short time using a well-programmed Wacom tablet and pen.

There's also an ergonomic issue with touch-screens. If the screen is
in the traditional vertical position one would have to hold one's arm
in a suspended position which is going to open up all kinds of
potentials for serious repetitive strain injuries. I dealt with this
while working for the computer game industry where I spent eight hours
or more a day with a mouse in my hand. Initially I didn't have the
right chair and found myself holding the mouse with my elbow in the
air. It didn't take long before I began experiencing tingling and
numbness in my wrist and moving up my arm. I dealt with it effectively
by asking for a chair with an adjustable armrest which allowed me to
rest my arm on that armrest at the same level as the table-top, thereby
taking all the strain off arm-wrist structure. The injury vanished
within a matter of weeks.

How would an effective touch-screen interface balance that traditional,
relatively vertical, position that works best for reading? If you lay
the screen horizontally on a table to improve it's access to the hand,
it becomes a potential strain on the neck. Incompatible uses?


On 26-Oct-05, at 10:47 AM, Richard Wentk wrote:

> At 17:45 26/10/2005, you wrote:
>> Anyone who programs much in MaxMSP or many other graphics programs
>> are used to the practice of nudging with single pixel accuracy.
> I program in Max/MSP and I've never felt a need to nudge single
> pixels. There aren't many situations where that kind of absolute
> accuracy is genuinely essential. Where it is essential, it's worth
> wondering if a cursor/screen combination really is the optimal
> interface solution.
>> I personally found the low resolution of the (now defunct?) Tactex
>> touch pad to be a severe limitation to its usefulness for detailed
>> gestural or higher resolution purposes.
> You need a certain minimal area to make high resolution control, and
> the problem with any touch-based solution is that for accurate control
> that area has to be quite large. The Lemur is pretty much the bare
> minimum size.
> I had a 21" Wacom Cintiq here for a while
> ( and that was surprisingly
> musical and responsive with Max/MSP. Albeit that it's a pen driven
> single-touch system.
> A multi-touch version of the Cintiq would be a very interesting thing
> indeed. (Unfortunately it would also be a very expensive and heavy
> thing. But still...)
> Richard

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