Multi-Touch Scenarios on a Tablet PC

James Kendrick says he has yet to have anyone give him a single usage scenario where multi-touch on a normal sized device, like a Tablet PC, makes sense.

I can give him plenty that don’t involve the traditional picture zooming:


  • Math – interacting with clocks, manipulating objects for counting / sorting
  • Modeling scenarios – cars, clay modeling, CAD, 3-D animation
  • Practicing music where two or more notes need to be played at the same time to form a chord – guitar, piano, trumpet, etc. A person could practice the notes on a trumpet without having to put one to their lips. Heck, a 5″ – 8″ screen would be perfect for this. Think about holding an OQO in your right hand, with the three keys on the trumpet displaying, and being able to practice some music.
  • Writing music and then wanting to test it out quickly on the screen with your fingers.
  • Game playing with two people – play dough type of games for younger kids would be awesome. Take two fingers across the screen to form a string, then twist it with two fingers. Imagine the things kids could build. What about Legos – grabbing two or more pieces and putting them together, then manipulating them with your fingers. Picking up a bunch of Legos with your hand and moving them to another spot.
  • Geography – manipulating maps . Imagine putting your hands on a map, then pulling your hands a part like you are digging in to the picture to see more depth of what is underneath- multiple pressure points could allow that.
  • Science: grabbing several types of digitized chemicals with different fingers and joining them together to make something or form a different substance.
  • Painting – mixing colors from two or three different palettes
  • Imagine multi-touch that sensed torque, leverage, etc, from multiple points, and the kind of learning scenarios that would encourage around physics
  • What about engineering possibilities- roads, buildings, etc where moving things with multiple fingers, or activating pressure points on objects caused events to happen to test fault tolerances.
  • What about role playing for insurance – reenacting accidents with cars ( manipulating two cars with fingers on different hands ).
  • What about cartoon manipulation for artists
  • What about mirroring a common action for paper note-takers: you are inking a note in Journal or InkSeine, when you decide that you hate the idea that you’ve been working on. You take your hand and scrunch up the piece of “paper” in to a ball and throw it away. That brings the experience of note-taking even closer to mirroring real life, thanks to multi-touch.

These are all usage scenarios I could imagine conducting on my 12″ Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC or even smaller devices like an OQO Model 02.  The potential of multi-touch on a laptop / tablet pc screen is huge in the education space, and I think it is one of the most exciting things to develop in a long time.   The 12″ screen is perfect for all of these scenarios because they allow the student to take the device with them and use it a home, school, the lab, etc. Usability possibilities around multi-touch and laptop screens abound.