Something interesting is happening. While touch screen technology has been around for a long time in the form of kiosks and food service seating or other niche applications, it seems to be ready for the masses. With the iPhone, people are becoming accustomed to working sans mouse and using something that we learned as a child ... pointing with our fingers to elicit some action. While it seems Apple is the only company out there with touch products, Microsoft has several tricks up it sleeve and one of them is code named Courier. Courier looks to be a tablet type device (1st image below ... courtesy of Gizmodo.com) that will allow you to point, type, and use a stylus for a wide variety of applications.
Microsoft Windows 7 Touch on a Dell Lattitude
Also, a lesser known technology of Microsoft's is Surface, a touch screen that comes in the form of a coffee table that provides multi-touch kiosk functionality. This is still largely limited to vertical applications (i.e. retail, healthcare, public sector, etc.) but portions of its underlying technology were likely used in development of Courier. Finally, Windows 7 is multi-touch capable. A host of tablet-like devices are due out soon (read October) using this technology.
What does all this mean? We can start to expand on our conceptions of application interfaces in ways we never imagined. At Adage, we have already begun experimenting with portions of the underlying technology and are excited about its potential. Tablet applications that did not make sense before because they required a mouse, may be worth another look.