I met up with HP in San Francisco to check out some new PCs and talk about touch computing. Just about every PC vendor seems to be jumping on the touch bandwagon thanks to Windows 7, but what are users going to actually do with all this multi-touch goodness? HP provided several interesting demos, but I hope developers take things further as touchscreen computers become more popular.
John Cook, HP’s VP of Desktop Marketing, said the company is working to make touch more useful and less of a gimmick.
HP’s new all-in-one TouchSmart PCs come with an improved touch interface and some new apps. I really like Recipe Box, an application that organizes all of your online recipes. The application can be controlled with your fingers or through a Bluetooth headset. I rarely cook, but I’d probably be willing to spend more time in the kitchen if I had something like this.
The new TouchSmart PCs have a touch interface that’s a lot more lively than previous versions.
The new TouchSmart PCs come with touch applications for Hulu, Netflix and Twitter. Consumers may have fun with these applications, but I found the business applications HP had on display much more compelling.
The Marriott Hotel in Nashville is using a TouchSmart PC as a virtual concierge. What’s interesting about this solution is that it’s actually running within a web browser. I’ve talked to some pretty well-known developers and I think that we’ll start seeing a lot of web pages designed for touch users starting next year.
Priscilla of Boston uses TouchSmart PCs at its retail stores to improve the shopping experience. It’s designed to make shopping for a wedding gown easier and more interactive. A bride can narrow down the selection of wedding dresses at the boutique with a few taps and swipes.
TouchSmart PCs have been installed at Detroit’s Palace of Auburn Hills so Pistons fans can watch instant replays, order food and get game info. Visitors can choose from multiple camera angles during concerts and other special events.
As you can see, most of the TouchSmart applications are still transactional. They allow users to get what they need with a few taps and swipes. It would be a challenge to use a large touchscreen that’s standing vertically for more than a few minutes at a time.
I think HP and the rest of the PC vendors promoting touch are still missing a killer app. I think most consumers will need a bigger push than Recipe Box and a Netflix application to pay a premium for touch. What capabilities or applications do you think would convince an average consumer to take a closer look at a touch-enabled PC?