When dumb ideas attack!
Samsung has just patented a gesture-based interface for mobile devices. In plain english, this means that in order to operate and navigate the device you have to wave your hands/arms around. You don’t actually touch the device. This is a joke, eh Sammy? I can see it now: sitting on a packed London Underground Tube, getting the person next to you to hold the device while you make a strange sign-language at the screen. “It’s o.k everyone, I’m not absolutely insane, I’m just reading my emails”. Yes, this patent clearly has legs.
On a more serious note, it seems that manufacturers are looking for more and more obscure ways to 1-up the multi-touch interface of the iPhone. Haptics, Arm-waving, Shake Control, you name it. It is trying to be done. To me this is really futile, as Apple had enough of a struggle to convince people to trust in a device that has only one hardware button. Generally people are still cynical of touch-based interfaces on mobile phones, with many preferring still the ‘reliability’ of little plastic buttons. With the iPhone you really hand over the trust to the device, to get it right, to do what you actually wanted it to do. A perfect example is the keyboard on the iPhone. The best way to use it is to trust in the interface to get it right, and the more you ‘let go’ of as-you-type monitoring and let the device interpret your presses, the more chances it has of getting it right. My typing on the iPhone is far faster than on my previous smartphone (Nokia E61), due to the fact that I don’t monitor what I am typing. I wait till the end of the sentence or paragraph, and 99% of the time it’s all fine.
Mobile phones are by their very nature, devices that are designed to be held. Devices that are to be touched. The moment you uncouple that connection between the user and device, it becomes something else, something other. If anything, people want more physical interaction with devices, not less. Sammy, It’s back to the drawing board!