Sense of Touch is Essential: Bret Victor

By Ed Silverstein November 10, 2011

Touch screen technology and similar advances are being portrayed by Microsoft as a future key to achieve high levels of productivity.

But Bret Victor was disheartened upon watching Microsoft’s new video on the topic.

"With an entire body at your command, do you seriously think the Future of Interaction should be a single finger," Victor asks in response to the video from Microsoft.

“Our hands literally define us... Hands feel things, and hands manipulate things… The sense of touch is essential to everything that humans have called ‘work’ for millions of years,” Victor said.

On his website, he urges people to “be inspired by the untapped potential of human capabilities.”

“Don't just extrapolate yesterday's technology and then cram people into it," Victor says.

In response to the Microsoft video, he created an “epic rant” on his website. For example, it includes a different opinion on Microsoft’s view of touch screens. "This vision, from an interaction perspective, is not visionary. It's a timid increment from the status quo.”

"I call this technology Pictures Under Glass,” Victor continues. “Pictures Under Glass sacrifice all the tactile richness of working with our hands, offering instead a hokey visual facade….What can you do with a Picture Under Glass? You can slide it... That's pretty much all I can think of."

“To me, claiming that Pictures Under Glass is the future of interaction is like claiming that black-and-white is the future of photography,” Victor adds. “It's obviously a transitional technology. And the sooner we transition, the better… Pictures Under Glass is old news. Let's start using our hands.”

His rant got the attention of several media outlets, who remind viewers and readers about Victor’s work experience with Apple.

“Considering he helped design the gestures and user interface of the iPad, his opinion is incredibly informed and worth reading,” comments The Business Insider.

In other recent news about Microsoft touch screen technology, TechZone360 carried a story that said, “Touch user Interface Windows 8 embodies simplicity for users to navigate on the screen using either a combination of mouse and key-board, or a touch gesture.”


Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Contributor

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