Another entry in my controller series, is a control setup that simply cannot be ignored any longer: the touch interface. For most of us, this comes in the form of our smartphones. Of course, I could not hope to cover all touch interfaces with a single post. This post mostly focuses on those touch interfaces that are implemented well, so think iPlatform and high-grade Android phones.
I must say, I absolutely love the touch interface. I can see a future where all of our devices are actually a touch-interface. Keyboard keys? A thing of the past. Numerical buttons on the telephone? A thing of the past. A touch interface can easily do these things. Best of all, it is not bound to a single purpose. Because it is essentially a monitor, it can be manipulated to display different screens and behave in different ways.
I was a little wary when switching to a smartphone. Many of my friends already had one. I thought they were cool, but I simply could not see myself doing much on such a small screen with what seemed like not the greatest functionality. The reality is though that these touch interfaces with their wide ranges of functionality work incredibly well. Being the type of person that regularly ignores the phone when it is ringing, I had a hard time thinking I needed a fancy phone to do anything. I could not have been further from correct. I may only talk on my phone for less than 100 minutes per month, but the amount of other things I do with it account for hours out of each day.
In the case of playing games, a touch interface only works well if it has multi-touch capability. This means that the phone can easily register both of your thumbs on the screen at the same time. When this functionality is done correctly, the screen can instantly be transformed into a controller or anything else you need for games. There is a little bit of processing power that needs to be added in order to make the response seem up to par, but even when emulating older games, the touch interface on many of these devices is more than adequate.
A major concern I had with the touch interface is fingerprints. Oh how I hate fingerprints on my screens. Many of these device manufacturers knew this though and designed their screens to be able to easily wipe away the prints. Further, high definition beats out fingerprints any day. Anybody concerned about fingerprints messing up their view on a touch device does not yet have proper experience with a touch screen.
I really feel that the touch interface is the wave of the future. No Microsoft, dancing in front of a camera to interact with your television will never become mainstream. However, we can certainly make multi-purpose devices with touch screens that do whatever we need. While I would not recommend using a cheap device, if you have apprehensions about touch devices, this is the day and age to get one and get comfortable.