September 26, 2005

Two in the hand

Wow–now this you don’t see every day. A small company called Tactiva has unveiled a rather eye-popping demo of a device that lets you use both hands while working in design software.
The appeal of using two hands at once (instead of essentially pointing with a stick and grunting, as is done with a mouse) isn’t new; the latest Wacom tablets feature touch strips for non-dominant hand work, and Logitech and others sell a variety of pucks and other devices for the same purpose. But the Tactiva device takes things to a new level by displaying a ghosted image of your actual hands overlaid on the UI, as well as providing force feedback when you interact with on-screen objects.
The device faces plenty of obstacles to adoption (no manufacturers yet, potential $1000 price point, need for support in applications that assume a single input control). Yet I keep thinking about it.
What do you think? Just a neat parlor trick, or the future of computing, or something in between?

Posted by John Nack at 12:24 PM on September 26, 2005

Comments

  • Nate — 3:27 PM on September 26, 2005

    It reminds me of the movie with tom cruise, where he uses his hands to navigate through an image reel. It makes the most sense, us using our hands to essentially fingerpaint things, or move things with, rather than learning a new system all over again.

  • Joe Lencioni — 8:45 AM on September 27, 2005

    I think that the Tactipad looks like the greatest thing ever. When I first saw the demo videos a few months ago, I showed everybody I knew.
    My only concerns are with the possibly high price and how many applications would adaquately support the interface and provide correct tactile feedback. Regarding the price, that would possibly decrease over time as demand and adoption grows. Regarding the tactile feedback, judging from the demo movies it looks like it pretty seemlessly integrates with most programs, but you never know. It would be disappointing to actually get one and then have it fail you in most applications.
    As for your question, I think that it is more than a neat parlor trick and could possibly be close to the future of computing. It has so many benefits: ergonomic, accuracy, and more control. It is simply a better way to interface than a mouse.
    However, my only questions are, what happens to the keyboard, and what about dual- or multi-monitor systems?

  • Mark Kawano — 11:33 AM on September 27, 2005

    I had the opportunity to demo the TactaPad and it was pretty cool. It has plenty of kinks to work out (such as ambient lighting affecting input recognition), but the overall interaction model is very interesting. The things you can do with 2 cursors is really the impressive part more than the hardware itself. But the fact that it actually works is also impressive.
    In response to Joe’s comments:
    Software must be designed and developed specially for this device making practical application a bit tricky. It won’t simply integrate with any existing software.
    Also, using your hands as a cursor is actually less precise than using a mouse.
    John, you should give the Tactiva a call and get a demo if you haven’t already. I know that he’d be more than happy to come visit Adobe.

  • Mike Wallen — 12:05 PM on October 13, 2005

    Two hands are better than one mouse!
    My first impression was why not just use a touch screen? Then I saw the advantages of the hand overlays. I would see this really being “handy” for doing quick sketches or preliminary designs for layout. I would question how productive you could be with complex, mult-layered designs.
    UI for the app in how to access tools would have to be built with this unique input device in mind. For instance if you were hovering over a interface with small buttons it would be cool to have it magnify.
    I wonder if there are options to change the size and shape of the hand? Or does it somehow know what your hand is shaped like?

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