Why the way you touch reveals where you live

HP claims the way people interact with a touchscreen PC differs depending on where in the world they’re from.

Why the way you touch reveals where you live

The company’s chief technology officer, Phil McKinney, told PC Pro that people have “touch dialects” which are unique to their region.

For example, people in Europe will zoom in on a photo using the iPhone-style pinched fingers, while users from, say, Asia will put their fingers on the corners of the photo and attempt to ‘stretch’ the photo that way.

“If you look at how people talk, they talk with their hands,” McKinney says. “The hand gestures people use are very local.”

“You can see that with a touch PC. In some parts of the world, touching a PC [like we normally do in Europe] with one finger is just not acceptable.”

McKinney claims HP Labs – which has an entire department devoted to touch and other interface designs – is working on software that will identify where a person’s from depending on the way they interact with a touchscreen PC.

“As soon as you touch the device, we could say ‘Oh, you’re from South Korea’,” McKinney claimed, with the PC adjusting its language settings accordingly.

However, McKinney admits that automatic recognition of touch dialects is “just a hypothesis” for now.

Touch success

McKinney claims that HP’s range of touchscreen PCs – which were first launched three years ago – have been a huge success, claiming that sales “have exceeded all our expectations”.

He says the company was particularly taken by surprise by the demand for touch from the business world. “We’ve seen enterprise customers going into retailers and buying ten at a time,” McKinney claims.

He says the company’s TouchSmart PCs are cropping up in restaurants, where they’re used as interactive menus, and hotel rooms, where they double up as a PC and a television.

He even claims digital artists are using them to draw with, using paintbrushes instead of their fingers on screen.

“Every week we hear of of an enterprise customer who’s created a new type of [touch] application,” he claims.

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