Friday, August 14, 2009

the touch point between human and machine is an essential component of design

I'm typing this right now on a Lenovo X61s. My finger tips are slightly warm, but not uncomfortably so. Still, I wish that a little less heat was conducted up from the processor and into the keyboard. But the keyboard is otherwise perfect and that feature alone makes it hard for me to switch devices. Further, the little red nubby thing--the trackpoint--of a Lenovo (nee IBM) Thinkpad is essential. I don't even want to have a trackpad on my laptop because they give me carpal tunnel almost instantly. The physical interface between body and machine is at least as important as the visual interface of the operating system. The touch point between human and machine is an essential component of design.

I've been thinking about this more as the rumors about an Apple Tablet kindle more brightly. Of course the word "kindle" is used with intention. One has to wonder right now how many gadget boys and girls have paused in the last few days before hitting the "buy" button on the Kindle at the Amazon store with the Apple Tablet potentially in sight. (Rumor #1 was September 7, 2009 but Rumor #2 says it's out to 2010.) After all, the assumption would be that the Amazon app for the iPhone and Touch would also apply to the Tablet. If you've ever flicked through a set of photos on the touchscreen of an iPhone or iPod Touch or the pages of a digital book, you know that the interface is so perfect, so natural it's about as close as you can get to oneness with a consumer electronic. Will an Apple Tablet be just too seductive and incinerate Kindle and Sony Reader sales? The Kindle (Gen 2) has some wonderful physical aspects to its design. Primary for me is the lightness of the device and therefore the ability to read holding the device with one hand for a long time. But it's well tailored Oxford cloth vs skin-tight tight leather. Which are you going to rub up against?
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