Tablet device as an Input device

Alot of the criticism of Apple's iPad stems from the computing features is lacks. It seems many people want it to be a computer, and it's not.  Leo Laporte has it right in describing it as a content consumption device, instead of a content production device.

I'm not going to join the fray in Apple bashing at this point.  I also have no intention of picking one up. The platform has me thinking, though.

What if, instead of using it as a computer, or instead of using it like a computer, or instead of using it as a display/network interface, you used it as secondary mouse?

I'd be interested in a Tablet like device that sits next to my keyboard, mouse, and computer.

Imagine you are editing audio files. You have your application running on your real computer.  You have virtual sliders, nobs, splicers, and other things that today you manipulate with a mouse.  Now, what if the application still ran on your real computer, but on your nobs and sliders appeared on your Tablet?  Now, you can use your fingers to control things on the real computer, and you don't clutter up your big screen interface with those controls.

This is different from the current iPad use case because the Tablet here is a "dumb" device.  All it does is display the controls and accept your input.

Imagine you are playing the latest incarnation of a World of Warcraft or a first person shooter.  Obviously, the portable tablet wouldn't have the power to run such applications in all the full color, high graphics wonder.  But if it's another input device, hooked into your real computer, it becomes more powerful.  Instead of using key combos, or navigating complex menus in the heat of battle, you look over at your Tablet which displays your favorite buttons or macros.  Perhaps they change depending on what is happening on your other monitor at that point in the game.

We already see some of this capability in Optimus keyboard.  It features OLED keys. Basically, the keyboard physically looks like most other keyboards, but the letters on each key can change.  You can choose a different typing layout, or do your own short cuts and macros. You can replace the letters with images electronically.

A Tablet device that works as a input device for your computer, separate from your main computer screen, and that changes its own appearance could be an awesome tool.


Jon Clarke said...

Interesting. Although you could cut out the middleman by making the monitor multi-touch.

I still may get an ipad. But that's because I want to read digital comics on the train.

Cromely said...

@Jon Clarke: Multi-touch displays are great, but they don't quite meet this need. One of the great advantages to using a Tablet-like interface in this way is that your displays are showing different things. The stuff on the Tablet does not appear on the main monitor and does not take up space that way.

The other thing I like about this model is the ability to use it with any existing monitor without having to add that multi-touch to it.

I like the idea of looking at my 24" LCD standing at a 90 degree angle on my desk and being able to manipulate a Tablet like device as a separate input.

Touch screen on laptops and computers are great and (obviously) I've been a huge fan of the MSFT implementation of Tablet for years, but it's a different use case than this. Ultimately I think it makes sense to integrate touch everywhere, but the primary input device will not likely be your full size desktop monitor.