Pen and touch computing have long-thought to be mutually exclusive methods of human-computer interaction, but as the Microsoft Research project “Manual Deskterity” shows, the two intuitively combined makes for a much powerful input method than each of them might ever be on their own.
If you’re short on time, the real soul of the demo – a custom application for the Microsoft Surface with a special infrared pen – starts at the 1 minute mark and shows off capabilities that either wouldn’t be practical or possible at all by either pen or touch alone. Bear in mind however this is a research project so the application is quite limited in scope.
Having seen Bill Buxton briefly explore the combination of pen and touch only weeks ago in a Microsoft Research video, it came as no surprise to me that he’s very much involved with this project. To quote him, “everything is best for something and worst for something else” sums up the pen and touch debate perfectly. Combining the best attributes of each just makes sense.