By David Worthington | Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 4:36 pm
Microsoft put its weight behind touchscreen applications at its Professional developers Conference (PDC) last month, but that does not translate to immediate adoption by real people. That could change –sooner rather than later—as companies that develop business-oriented applications for Microsoft’s Surface tabletop computer try to take Surface out of its niche and into the office.
Last month, I reported on how Microsoft’s Surface tabletop computer team has graduated from being a Bill Gates pet project to a group that stands up on its own, and contributes back into other parts of Microsoft. Companies that work with Surface are riding its coattails.
“The table supports collaboration well. The conversation or interaction above the (Surface) table is one of the most important things facilitating that,” said Paul Osburn, engineering director of touch at Vertigo, a company that creates touch applications.
Vertigo got its legs building Surface applications for Hard Rock Café in partnership with advertising and media company Duncan/Channon. It’s now working with clients to build business-oriented Surface applications that “lay things out on a geographical basis,” as well as providing project planning and other brainstorming scenarios, Osburn said.
Those applications can tie into Microsoft Office and other corporate applications, he added. He also sees potential application on the desktop as a wider variety of Windows 7 touch screen hardware becomes available, but that it wouldn’t change how every business user works.
“I can’t see myself using it [touch screens] on a day-to-day basis. I’m much faster with a mouse and keyboard,” Osburn said. However, he believes that touch screen applications could become useful for online collaboration, and expects developers to take advantage of the tools and resources that Microsoft is giving developers to build those types of applications.
Mobile workers in the field, kiosks, interactive whiteboards, and medical imaging could make use of touch technology, said Chris Menegay, a principal consultant for Notion Solutions.
I believe that touchscreens will remain a niche technology, but that the niche will be found inside of nearly every business–most companies just don’t know how to use it yet. With touch technology built into Windows 7 (and Apple’s rumored tablet), and the popularity of the paradigm on mobile devices, this interface is going to be everywhere.