Multitouch will revolutionize your computer

Giles Turnbull at O’Reilly has a short update om Jeff Han, who makes the amazing multitouch interface. Jeff has founded the Perceptivepixel company. The website is just a front page (with lamp graphics in multitouch) and not much else.

O’Reilly also has this video that shows how much cooler multitouch has become in just a year. Go back to my original multitouch post and have a look at the video there. Now, Multitouch is a whole wall.

(Click through too se the video)

But – and this is an important but – there’s still no real OS behind it. When will we see a real operating system using this? The iPhone already has multitouch on it, but that’s only a small screen. And on a closed system: You can’t develop your own apps using multitouch on the iPhone (yet). My guess: Within a year.


As I was sorting lots of old photos on a table today, this image of me doing the same thing digitally on a wall came to mind. Fast-forward a year or three. Huge LCD-screens are now at a price level where people not driving Ferrari can afford them. So you got your 100″ LCD-screen. Multitouch is now integrated in the OS, and you bring up the photos from the last month in Aperture 2008. All the pictures are in a pile in the middle. You start dragging them into piles according to themes you see. Change them around. See new combinations. Move again. Zoom in on a picture to see details. Zoom out again. All while standing in front of this gorgeous screen and using the best tool ever existed on earth: The hands of a human.

I think Steve Jobs was absolutely right when he compared multitouch to the mouse and the click-wheel at his keynote in January, 2007:

We have been very lucky to have brought a few revolutionary user interfaces to the market – the mouse, the click wheel, and now Multi-Touch.

And just as with the iPod, we don’t see the huge changes this will make. I think multitouch will change the way we use computers, a revolution.

Try this: If you know kids that use a computer, watch them find their way around on it, play games etc. They are fast. It’s second nature for them.

Now watch the same kids playing; Lego, toys, dolls, puzzles, drawings – whatever their favourite is. If they like to draw, and do it a lot, watch how fast they move their hands, change the angle, move the paper, grab a new pen or crayon, put it back and pick a new one. It’s like they don’t watch their hands at all: It just moves around. Precise and fast. Watch kids who build with Lego – look how fast they find tiny pieces, pick them up, turn them in the right position, position them and make something.

Your hands are 100x superior to your computer mouse. Or tablet, trackpad etc.

Of course, you still will be able to write your name lots nicer with a pen than with your finger. And you still will need special input devices for special tasks: Like a shuttlewheel for video editing, a tablet for illustration.

But for lots of the things we now use a mouse on the computer, using your finger is much better. I move around the screen much faster on the Powerbook, than on the MacPro, because of the trackpad. And the trackpad is only one finger! Or actually two, as two fingers scrolls the screen. The thing I miss the most when I’m working on the MacPro, is the two-finger scrolling on the trackpad. Very intuitive and time-saving.

Which apps?

I want Final Cut Pro with multitouch: Zoom in and out on the timeline. Move clips around on the timeline. Trim or expand with two fingers. Mix the sound with 10 fingers, right on the screen. Manipulate videos in 3D space. Colorcorrect.

Aperture with multitouch: Make stacks of pictures on a virtual table. Sort. Mix. Change. Zoom in and out. Retouch or colorcorrect. Drag pictures into albums. Move them around. A lot. And really fast.

Soundtrack Pro with multitouch: Expand loops. Timestretch and pitch change. Mixing again. Tapping the rhythm to change tempo. Same thing with Logic. Tap different drums. Play a piano right on the screen for easy note entry without your keyboard with you. With real chords.

And Finder with multitouch! Move files around. Stack them and sort them. Zooming and panning on a huge desktop.

Suddenly the worlds most advanced OS, Mac OS X, seem so old-fashioned and restrained…

Update: Multitouch Logic

Infinite Loop at Ars Technica is on to similar thoughts:

Basically the rumor is this: There will be no Logic 8. The successor to Logic 7 will have a new name. The unnamed application will be 10.5 only and will work with a new line of touch sensitive Apple displays. Also, it will be an OMG PROTOOLS KILLER!@!!

I’d love to throw out ProTools. Talk about overrated!