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Return to: 2008 News Releases

CLOSING THE GAP BETWEEN SMARTPHONES AND MOBILE COMPUTERS DEMANDS A NEW BREED OF MULTI-TOUCH USER INTERFACES

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 11, 2008 -- Since the introduction of the Apple iPhone in January 2007, multi-touch technology - and the way it lets users zoom in and zoom out with a so-called 'pinch gesture' - has become a hot topic. But does it really close the gap between smartphones and mobile computers, enabling handsets to perform most daily tasks as easily a laptop computer or a combination of several devices can?

So asks Guillaume Largillier, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Stantum Technologies (www.stantum.com), the first company to bring to market a product featuring a multi-touch display. Speaking at the recent SID Mobile Displays Conference in San Diego to an audience of planners, designers and engineers of small displays for electronics products, Largillier said, "Zooming in and out with two fingers is definitely smart. But what's beyond the smartness? What's beyond the pinch gesture?

"With smartphones, you can organize your calendar or your address book, but not as easily as you can on your laptop. Smartphone interfaces are still not suited for the more complex operations, such as taking notes in real-time, editing documents, or gaming. Also, moving from one application to the other on a desktop computer is pretty easy, whereas it can be a total nightmare with a handset."

Though Largillier admits that the immediate "Wow!" effects surrounding the iPhone have greatly helped promote touch-display technologies by showing how much more they offer than a 10-digit keypad, he contends that the real challenge now is to develop user interfaces for mobile computers that are:

  • worker-friendly as well as user-friendly;
  • productive as well as entertaining;
  • efficient as well as intuitive;
  • playable as well as playful; and
  • handy as well as appealing.

To achieve these user interfaces for the ideal mobile computer, however, significant barriers - such as too many features and not enough room - must be overcome.

"The single-handed pinch gesture is not the complete solution," Largillier told his audience. "There are limitations to the gesture-based user screen interface, even with the finest gesture recognition algorithm and the most accurate touch technology. Also, the more gestures you have, the greater the likelihood of manipulation mistakes and the number of gestures a user can easily remember is quite limited."

Largillier cited a number of solutions, including on-screen shortcuts and two-handed operation, which greatly improve overall efficiency and playfulness. Combining finger and pen input also makes for a richer user experience, even on a small display.

"Multi-touch opens up a wide field of possibilities if it leverages the user's capacity to split tasks between the two hands," he said. "To enable this, touch-panels must allow true unlimited multi-touch, with accurate coordinates of each contact point; be able to detect fingers and styli; and offer uncompromised performance - a resolution as high as 0.2 millimeters and a time response as fast as 10 milliseconds."

Fortunately, he added, such multi-touch technology is available today that can be adapted for user interfaces that overcome the barriers and achieve the ideal mobile computer.

About Stantum Technologies

Stantum Technologies (formerly JazzMutant) has pioneered multi-touch technologies since its founding in 2002 by Guillaume Largillier and Pascal Joguet. The following year, it developed the world's first multi-touch screen that could track an unlimited number of fingers at once and in 2005 launched Lemur, the first multi-touch product available on the market. Today, Stantum's technology portfolio and product offerings cover every aspect of multi-touch interaction, including sensor design, multi-touch controllers, intellectual property cores, software integration, and application programming interfaces. Stantum is headquartered in Bordeaux, France, with the U.S. accounting for about one-third of its worldwide sales.

Return to: 2008 News Releases