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Handheld Screens Shouldn’t Be Flat

Enrounden the planar.
 
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Ergonomically, the flat surface is about as inappropriate as it is possible to be for a human interface. It sort of works, if one is tapping a few buttons on a wall-mounted interface, such as a doorbell or lift, but for anything extensive, it doesn’t work. I increasively notice the tendency of people to adopt a sort of held-back restrained about to pounce “claw” arrangement with their hand, with only one finger allowed to deviate from this unnatural locked contortion, so that this finger alone can do the “typing” and gesturing, to prevent any other parts of knuckles or tips or edges of other fingers or palms or wrists getting in the way and ordering goods, sending emails to the wrong people, making calls to random recipients, playing music wrongly and taking photos of people’s shoes.

My solution, which is pretty obvious, is to stop making screens flat. Make them the shape that human ergonomics can work with without prematurely inducing the onset of arthritis. Make an android phone, ipad, iphone, ipod touch, tablet, clipboard computer (those’ll be next), and any of those sorts of flat screen handheld input-intensive devices have curved screens. I’m not sure which is best — concave, or convex. You’d think that concave would be best, as the hand can just rotate at the wrist, inside a shallow cavity, but I think this is a falsity. I propose a convex surface, or an irregularly complexly curved gentle tubular surface, around which we can rotate and pivot and amble without having to avoid and dodge irrelevant yet still active parts of the touch sensitive plane.

Your tablet or phone will be more like a trout or gently flattened aubergine.

Ian Tindale, Dec 23 2010

Holster Computer Holster_20Computer
I think I'll disagree. Because it depends on how the device is designed to be held in the hand. This link describes a device with a large flat (unfolding) screen, but has a secure grip for one hand, leaving the other completely free for button-pushing (or gesturing, although this Idea is somewhat older than all those new touchscreen gestures). [Vernon, Dec 23 2010]

Wasp T12 Speechtool http://www.trashbat.co.ck/t12/index.html
It's well weapon - ergonomics cutting edge, but a flat screen - missed a trick there. [zen_tom, Dec 23 2010]

[link]






       Tablets are designed to be held in two hands, with typing done with the thumbs. In a rectangular tablet, such as my Galaxy Tab, this is a very ergonomic and natural-feeling way to hold it (most reviews I read about it indicate that this was the same experience for the authors). A curved screen makes it less pocketable, and pocketability is one of the biggest advantages (mentioned in every review I've read) over larger tablets such as the iPad.   

       If people are typing on a tablet with one finger, they're doing it wrong and need to be educated about the product. If they are doing it with an iPad, they should consider buying a more ergonomically designed tablet.
21 Quest, Dec 23 2010
  

       I'm sure i have an App for that somewhere.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 23 2010
  

       Reminds me of Nathan Barley's phone, you know the one with the massive 5 in the middle because it's the number people dial most?
zen_tom, Dec 23 2010
  

       I have a Nexus S on my desk right now - it has a very slightly concave screen, though you can only really notice the difference if you look at it sideways on.
Wrongfellow, Dec 23 2010
  

       //I’m not sure which is best — concave, or convex.//   

       Yet you're sure that the flat screen is not ergonomic?
Jinbish, Dec 23 2010
  

       21 Quest, - eh? You can’t use the thumb to tap, type or gesture with. It’s too short, not dextrous enough by far, and is entirely the wrong digit to choose from, given that there’s eight far better, more coordinated and nimbler digits to choose from, according to evolution. The thumb is simply an appendage that stops things from falling out of the hands grip, in most people. I’ve seen children type using thumbs on their phones, but I’ve always dismissed this on the assumption that they are simply closer to their unevolved simian roots than they are to being human yet.
Ian Tindale, Dec 23 2010
  

       Jinbish, - I need to prototype it physically using block models, but I think the difference has to do with size. If it were a laptop sized screen, or larger, I would probably be inclined to make it concave where it is as if our hands sit inside it, but at around iPhone size, I think it works the other way and we need to ambulate around it. If it were a portion of a ball, or orb, there'd be a size where you could use it as both a display and an input. Above that size it would not be as easy, but a bowl form would become easier.   

       Of course, the fundamental flaw is tightly coupling the interaction surface with the display surface, when the display surface is forced to be planar due to our technical limitations. Really, there’s no intrinsic requirement that the surface we interact with is also the surface the image is projected onto, unless we can’t manage it any other way due to lack of technique.
Ian Tindale, Dec 23 2010
  

       The problem with using fingers to type on such a small screen is that it's too small to use the same typing method to which we have grown accustomed using full size computer keyboards. That is how we have trained our hands to move, so muscle memory causes problems. You'd have to invent a whole new typing method to quickly use fingers on such a small screen, or use a well and truly Baked kind of keyboard called Swype, which is widely available (and apparently pretty popular) on Android phones and tablets and allows quick typing with just one finger (I, however, have been unsuccessful in my attempts to get used to Swype).
21 Quest, Dec 23 2010
  
      
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