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How smart is touch?

How smart is touch?

We touch for all manner of reasons. There is the physical stuff like shaking hands, embracing and a host of other things between consenting adults. We have to touch something to pick it up, pull it, push it, steer it, move it around, or simply come into contact with it.

We can also be touched by something in an emotional way. No matter how much you’ve prepared, odds on you’ll be adding the finishing touches to your presentation just before you have to give it. And we say to acquaintances we meet in the street that we should keep in touch … but, of course, we hardly ever do.

Apple’s named an iPod after it. Touch gives it name to the side of a sports field and a variation of rugby. It is a standard Linux/Unix program that is used to change a file’s access and modification timestamps, if you were wondering. Those who use more than two fingers may have the skills to touch type.

In fencing, when the point of a foil or épée or the point or edge of the blade of a sabre comes into contact with the opponent’s body, it is said to be a ‘touch’. And in metallurgy a touch is an official mark put upon precious metal after testing to indicate its purity.

You can touch up a photo, touch down with a plane, and touch base with whomever you choose

All of which, touches upon the latest tech gadget I’ve been playing with, a touch screen. HP was kind enough to lend me a demo of its latest TouchSmart PC.

I like it. For me, having been brought up using a mouse and keyboard – and getting fairly proficient with them – touch is still a new and relatively alien thing. I can see the advantages. It is much quicker to simply touch parts of the screen than moving a cursor about. Voice commands would be better … but touching is good for now.

Not that I’ve had much chance to try it out though! I made the mistake of unpacking and setting up the TouchSmart with my five-year-old son. I say ‘mistake’, in the nicest possible way – no father-son experiences is ever that (and we had a fun opening it all up … a process, by the way, that is about as hard as switching on a TV). The trouble was I couldn’t get him off of it. No sooner had the screen pinged into life than he was happily poking and prodding away.

Remember he is only five. Touch is intuitive to the extreme. With just a little help finding things (and reading instructions), he was off.

One downside with touching a screen is … well … it gets touched … with sticky fingers. It does get messy and needs a regular wipe down. I also found that some of the icons are a bit small and close together for my fat fingers to navigate with any predictable accuracy. But that is a software thing and fixable I’m sure.

Nope, overall all, if HP forgets to pick it up, I won’t be complaining. And hopefully my son will get bored and go back to Spongebob Squarepants and Fairly Odd Parents, so that I can have a play. Touch wood, anyway.


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