Tablets and smartphones aren't the only market for touch technology. From touch-screen tables to desktops, other manufacturers are getting in on the finger-input game.
When does a touch-screen
come in handy?
If manufacturers and
software developers have their way, it seems, the question will soon become: When
a touch-screen come in handy?
The spread of touch-screen
functionality to smartphones and tablets, of course, is well-known. Apple's
iPhone helped trigger the rise of Google Android smartphones, which, in turn,
pressured Microsoft to produce the touch-centric Windows Phone 7. If industry
analysts like Jack Gold prove correct, soon Nokia will adapt to a more touch-centric
world by adopting either Android or Windows Phone 7 for its own upcoming
In a similar manner, tablets
with touch functionality are rapidly becoming the norm. When the Apple iPad
ignited a super-charged consumer tablet market, other manufacturers saw their
chance to create a new line of products. Many chose Android as the software
platform for their tablets, pushing Google to create the upcoming Android 3.0
("Honeycomb"), optimized for larger screens. Other manufacturers, including Research
In Motion and Hewlett-Packard, are developing tablets that run on a proprietary
operating system, but those, like iOS and Android, will rely on users' fingers
as the primary means on input.
But at this January's CES
(Consumer Electronics Show), and at several industry briefings since,
manufacturers and software-makers have pushed touch-screen functionality among
other form factors. Granted, the mobile market didn't drive the creation of
touch-screen technology, which has existed for years, but the popularity of
smartphones and tablets seems to be compelling companies to integrate that
technology into their products in new ways.
At CES, for example,
Microsoft used both its press conferences and meetings with media to
demonstrate the capabilities of Surface 2, the company's next generation of
tablet-size touch-screens. Surface 2 runs Windows 7 and is fronted with Gorilla
glass, leading company executives to claim it can withstand a beer bottle
dropped from 18 inches. Microsoft's primary market for Surface 2, which was
developed in conjunction with Samsung, includes restaurants like the Hard Rock
Cafe, in addition to galleries and other public spaces in need of a dynamic
A few weeks after CES, Hewlett-Packard
demonstrated the 23-inch TouchSmart Elite 610 and Elite 9300
, two desktops
that place touch functionality front and center. The PCs' software packages
include a TouchSmart Apps Center on the 610 and business-oriented functionality
on the 930. HP believes that touch-screens will make the devices a versatile
tool for designers and other professionals, as well as retail employees.
In place of an "iPad killer,"
Microsoft and its manufacturing partners have also been pushing hybrid laptops
with ultra-slim form factors and touch screens. At CES, for example, Samsung
pushed the Series 7, a laptop whose keyboard slides underneath to convert the
device into a tablet. Acer also demonstrated a notebook with a second
touch-screen in place of a keyboard. Indeed, touch screens seemed to be the
main story at the show, whether for tablets or smartphones.
With this increasingly
flooded market, of course, the question is, how many of these devices will