HP Workstation Event: touch screens could have health implications

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Multi-Touch screens running applications such as Autodesk Mudbox, as demonstrated at Autodesk University last December, may be more for show than practical use due to concerns over ergonomics.

#1: Ergonomics could hinder the adoption of multi touch technologies for CAD/CAM, says HP. Speaking at The company’s workstation media event in sunny Los Angeles today, Phil McKinney, Chief Technology Office, HP Personal Systems Group, said that desktop touch screens, such as those featured in its TouchSmart PC, are not designed to be used day in day out. Leaning across a desk to touch a screen can put stresses on elbows and shoulders, and finger joints can also be tested by repeatedly tapping a glass screen.

Instead, McKinney said that the future of interaction with CAD/CAM could be with gestures where users don’t have to physically touch the screen. The company’s labs division in India, which has been carrying out research into multi-touch technologies, is currently concentrating on using arm and hand gestures to interact with 3D models. HP also discussed the possibility of multi-trigger interactions, where the user could combine gestures with voice commands such as ’scale’ to offer increased control over interaction with 3D datasets.

While picturing a design office packed with flailing arms and harmonies of ‘fillet’, ‘extrude’ and ‘boolean operation’ may bring a smile to your face, the future of gesture-based CAD-model interaction is more likely to lie in design review or presentation. Whatever the outcome it’s going to be extremely interesting to see where this technology takes us, hopefully without too many cases of multi-touch elbow along the way!

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