Windows 7 supports touch screens. Ok, that’s not very big news, touch screens have been around for a while. Wikipedia tells me that touch screens date from the 60s. Not sure about that but they certainly crop up from time to time in museums, train stations and the sort of demos that look a bit forced. Overall I’d admit to being only peripherally aware of touch screens up to the day I encountered an iPad. Multi-touch, high resolution screen, quality software and suddenly it all makes sense. So much so that using the iPad touch screen felt natural within minutes.
Now sadly Nuno™ won’t run on an iPad (or maybe it does – watch this space) but there are some nice PCs around with touch screens and we figured that Nuno™ should be right at home with these. I find with charts in particular that I really want to reach out and touch them. Once you start doing this on a screen then there is no looking back. The touch screen doesn’t have to the replace the mouse and in many ways makes a nice addition to it.
Technically a touch screen, by default, drives the software a little like a mouse. This means that many applications, without modification, can already be used with a touch screen to some extent. Of course there is always scope for tweaks and improvements. As programmers we can accept the default behavior (ok sometimes) or dive in and create custom touch screen code. The diagram below shows what we have come up with in Nuno™. This seems to work quite well. There may well be refinements in the future.
I have been experimenting with an ELO 2242L 22” Touch monitor which is great fun although I can’t decide which way is best to mount it. Upright works quite well but is a bit tiring to use after a while. Might even cause the dreaded Gorilla Arm. Lying flat (the monitor, not me) is also quite good but it won’t naturally just lie on a table. Would be really nice to make a custom table for it although the ultimate chart replacement screen will probably need to be two or three times as big. Might even have teak edging.
Elsewhere in the CherSoft research labs we’ve been looking at a Motion J3500 tablet PC. This is a very nice bit of kit. Outdoor viewable display and generally pretty tough and portable. I could image using it ashore for planning with a keyboard, mouse and so on. Then taking it aboard and just using the touch screen to control it. The built in GPS works well so along with the automatic route tracking functionality in Nuno you can have a solution that really will just work. I guess in some ways this would be like having a plotter except of course that you could check your emails and browse the web in-between times. It features hot-swappable batteries too which is a pretty neat trick.
Nuno™ 2.5, the touchy, feely edition, will be out any day now.