Touchy subject

As kids we love to touch things, but as we get older we are taught that usually touching is bad. I remember taking my little brother to the Museum of Modern Art, and when he saw the Bicycle Wheel by Marcel Duchamp he did what any self-respecting 10-year-old boy would have done in his place. He came over and spun the wheel. It is easy to imagine what happened next – the guards awoke from their trance, and seeing the opportunity to actually do their job flocked over to us, scolding me for being inattentive and him for daring to touch the great work of art.

Parents are constantly telling kids not to touch things – whether it’s something that’s fragile or dirty or dangerous, the typical reaction is: Don’t touch! So what does that do to kids in the long run? I think it develops an unfulfilled need or mild fixation. This isn’t necessarily a need to touch things that you’re not supposed to, but rather something that sits in the back of our minds and elevates the concept of touch to a higher level.

If that is the case, it’s no wonder that touch-screen devices are so popular. Finally it’s OK to touch this expensive, shiny, fragile thing. There is a big difference between pressing buttons and interacting with a touch-screen device. Swiping, dragging, pinching – it all feels like playing. I remember when I first got the iPhone, I spent a lot of time just playing with the interface.

As I see new interfaces begin to appear that do not rely on any physical interaction with the device, but rather use gestures, motion, and voice as the primary forms of input, I wonder how well they will do. It seems like a very natural progression of technology, but I wonder if we will ever be satisfied without being able to get our paws all over the shiny expensive thingamajig.

I believe that for non-touch devices to succeed the need for touch has to be satisfied by other means. These days parents give kids their iPads and iphones, and let them play games. This could breed a generation with a healthier relationship with touching, and perhaps pave the way for non-touch devices.

One Reply to Touchy subject

  1. web design companies

    October 7, 2011 • 3:56 am

    There is a big difference between pressing buttons and interacting with a touch-screen device. Swiping, dragging, pinching – it all feels like playing. I remember when I first got the iPhone, I spent a lot of time just playing with the interface.

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