There have been tablet computers for a long time that offered touch screen functionality. More recently certain cell phones adopted the touch screen as their primary interface, and touch screen technology became incredibly popular.
Tablet computers have risen in popularity since the introduction of the iPad, and as a result there have been a huge number of copy cat tablet computers released The largest of these has generally been around ten inches, though some of the older style, high end tablets were larger.
Microsoft has released a unit called Surface that provides a touch screen display that is several feet wide. The device has a number of applications available already, including interactive maps, office software, and educational software.
There are games, music and photo suites and a range of software developed for professional settings. The cost of this though is huge, at more than twelve thousand dollars.
There are others who are working on larger screens. Two experiments in recent weeks have shown that the potential for touch screens is in fact pretty huge-those being by cell phone maker Nokia, and a group who made a touch screen table for personal use.
Table Connect for the iPhone range is a large table that acts as a massive screen for your phone. The display itself is the result of an experiment for personal use and not yet available for sale, but may well be eventually.
Connect requires that you plug in your iPhone or iPod Touch, activate the device and start to run an app. The app interfaces with the table, allowing you to then access your other apps, email, movies and games on the table.
Nokia’s experiment was far less useful than the others, but nonetheless interesting. They made a touch screen out of blocks of ice, that was five foot tall and six and a half foot wide. The blocks were fused together to give a solid surface, and an infrared light source was shone on the rear of the screen.
The only functionality that the screen provided was to allow a person to interact with the lights that shone on the surface.
The person’s hand on the opposite side to the light source caused a bounce back of infrared, which a sensor was able to pick up and thus, translate into movements of the lights.
Though this currently has no real use, it shows the potential for touch screens to be made from many different things, and in different settings.
The use of the light source for interaction also shows an innovative way to input commands, which may be of use on larger touch screens in the future.
Larger touch screens such as this may make effective interfaces for TV and media centers, as well as more futuristic displays such as those that have been seen on science fiction movies.
The move with all devices is towards technology that is increasingly intuitive and easy to use, and with touch screens becoming larger and easier to use it seems that intuitive technology is just a step away.