An interesting New York Times article points out how the iPhone has shaken the world of touch-screen devices, an industry until recently relegated to specific sectors and with presence in small market niches.
The demand for touch screen equipment is now increasingly high and according to the sellers of touch sensitive devices, the market is in turmoil. The huge potential target: points of sale, restaurants, information areas, multimedia kiosks, digital signature readers, ATMs not to mention solutions for the consumer market such as GPS and games (from the simple system to move chess pieces or checkers to methods to play poker or complex video games).
"Apple has changed the common opinion on touch-sensitive devices," says Geoff Walker, global director of Tyco Electronics, a major seller of touch-sensitive screens. The Cupertino house created a market and shifted interest to multitouch, the technique that allows you to accept inputs by swiping, touching and "pinching" the screen and made sure that other companies began to explore the potential of the system. "If people find it convenient to use their fingers on a mobile phone, they will appreciate it even more on a larger display", this is what, for example, the CEO of the Israeli N-trig, a company founded 8 years ago, hopes. make multitouch screens that can be used with a wireless pen or with your fingers.
The possibility of using the particular pen or fingers convinced Dell to insert the technology of the Tel Aviv company in the Latitude XT, a hybrid computer smaller than a classic laptop and slightly larger than a tablet that reacts to multitouch commands and allows to use your fingers as a mouse and pen to sign documents or write messages.
In Dell's vision, with one finger you can, for example, "stop" a folder and with another move an e-mail message to it, just as you can set the volume using a slider, instead of using the mouse.
N-trig has somewhat strengthened its leadership with the arrival of the iPhone. "In late 2006, we managed to convince Dell," says Amihai Ben-David, CEO of N-Trig, "but other manufacturers didn't want to know how to invest in touch." The announcement of the iPhone in January 2007 made sure that "the skeptical entrepreneurs of before contacted us". Touch screens produced by the Israeli company will begin to open on a notebook, fixed PCs and a new type of phone from next year. Intel, last Wednesday during the IDF, also showed a concept computer called "UrbanMax" that uses an N-trig screen.
Joseph W. Deal, president and CEO of Wacom, a manufacturer of touch-sensitive tablets and screens with 15 years of presence on the market and who has seen other apparently promising technologies, instead cautious and says that for touch to become a successful product " costs must drop significantly ".
Other analysts agree that it may take many years for the technology to be adopted en masse. According to iSuppli (a company specializing in marketing research), taking into account the mobile market alone, it is likely that touch screen technologies will be present, by 2013, in no more than 30% of the products.
Roger L. Kay, president and researcher of Endpoint Technology Associates says that probably 10% of mobile computing devices will have touch by 2013; one third of these products make multi-touch technologies available.
Finally, the market could be firmly influenced by the presence of multitouch technologies in the next Windows 7, the new version of the Microsoft operating system scheduled for 2010. The adoption of touch technologies in the Redmond system could "galvanize" developers by encouraging them to create specific applications. Furthermore, Microsoft could push towards a univocal standard, capable of harmonizing the methods of use proposed by the many manufacturers of touch technologies.
Everyone is in any case certain of one thing: after trying it, touch technology seems indispensable and indispensable. Roy Stedman of Dell is convinced of this and, in fact, says: "everyone wants it, but they don't know they want it until they try it".
(By Mauro Notarianni)