Friday, July 22 2005

The TactaPad looks like an interesting alternative to a mouse. A couple of years ago I talked about wanting to be able to have two mice, and it seems like the TactaPad could be “two mice”. But having watched the TactaPad in action, I realize that whether you have the TactaPad or two mice working at once, the operating systems we use just aren’t ready.

Consider window resizing for example. I could see the impulse of using two mice or two hands to grab each edge of a window and resizing it as a natural thing to want to do, but the OS has no idea how to handle that. It’s designed to look for a single mouse down event, and wait for a single mouse up event indicating the end of the drag. In current OS’s, it would simply ignore one of the two mice. Seems like simple stuff, but deep in the core os OS’s, single mouse events are pretty entrenched.

Tactiva says that TactaPad has the capability of manipulating objects using two hands at the same time, but if you watch the videos closely, it never happens out in the OS. Hands are trading off. It’s basically the same as having a single mouse cursor, trading the cursor between your fingers. Only Tactiva commissioned software seems to be able to detect multiple touches at the same time (because they can do that), but no current OS will ever take advantage of that.

And finally – I predict we’ll never see the TactaPad. They predict it will cost $1000.00 if they can even get it built en masse, and just look at it. It’s simply massive, has a camera hovering above it, and makes keyboard use a little more challenging. Neat concept, but I won’t be using one soon (unless of course they’d like me to review it, which I’d be glad to do).