“Pen” and “Touch” are terms that tend to be taken for granted these days in the context of interaction with mobiles, tablets, and electronic-whiteboards alike.
Yet, as I have discussed in many articles here, even in the simplest combination of these modalities — that of “Pen + Touch” — new opportunities for interaction design abound.
And from this perspective we can go much further still.
Take “touch,” for example.
What does this term really mean in the context of input to computers?
Is it just when the user intentionally moves a finger into contact with the screen?
What if the palm accidentally brushes the display instead — is that still “touch?”
Or how about the off-hand, which plays a critical but oft-unnoticed role in gripping and skillfully orienting the device for the action of the preferred hand? Isn’t that an important part of “touch” as well?
Well, there’s good reason to argue that from the human perspective, these are all “touch,” even though most existing devices only generate a touch-event at the moment when a finger comes into contact with the screen.
Clearly, this is a very limited view, and clearly with greater insight of the context surrounding a particular touch (or pen, or pen + touch) event, we could enhance the naturalness of working with computers considerably.
This chapter, then, works through a series of examples and perspectives which demonstrate how much richness there is in such a re-conception of direct interaction with computers, and thereby suggests some directions for future innovations and richer, far more expressive interactions.
Hinckley, K., Buxton, B., Inking Outside the Box: How Context Sensing Affords More Natural Pen (and Touch) Computing. 2016. Appears as Chapter 3 in Revolutionizing Education with Digital Ink: The Impact of Pen and Touch Technology on Education (Human-Computer Interaction Series), First Edition (2016). Ed. by Tracy Hammond, Published by Springer, June 13, 2016. [PDF – Author’s Draft]
P.S.: I’ve linked to the draft of the chapter that I submitted to the publisher, rather than the final version, as the published copy-edit muddied the writing by a gross misapplication of the Chicago Manual of Style, and in so doing introduced many semantic errors as well. Despite my best efforts I was not able to convince the publisher to fully reverse these undesired and unfortunate “improvements.” As such, my draft may contain some typographical errors or other minor discrepancies from the published version, but it is the authoritative version as far as I am concerned.