Already in 2007 Windows 7 were said to have new touch features. An overview of the multi-touch capabilities, including a virtual piano program, a mapping and directions program and a touch-aware version of Paint, was demonstrated at the All Things Digital Conference on May 27, 2008. A video demonstrating the multi-touch capabilities was later made available on the web.
Let us specify some necessary term. A touchscreen is a display that can detect the presence and location of a touch by a finger or hand within the display area. The touchscreen has two main properties. First, it enables one to interact with what is displayed directly on the screen. Second, it lets one do so without requiring any intermediate device, again, like a stylus, for instance. Such displays can be attached to computers or, as terminals, to networks. They also play a prominent role in the design of digital appliances such as the personal digital assistant (PDA), satellite navigation devices, mobile phones, and video games.
Multi-Touch, which is a trademark of Apple, Inc., concerns the same technology that allows the user to interact with the device by placing two or more fingers directly onto the surface of the screen. The movement of the fingers across the screen creates gestures, which send commands to the device.
Gesture recognition is topically used in computer science and language technology for goal interpreting human gestures via mathematical algorithms. Gestures can originate from any bodily motion or state but commonly originate from the face or hand. Current focuses in the field include emotion recognition from the face and hand gesture recognition. The gesture recognition can be seen as a way for computers to begin to understand human body language. Thus it may build a more sophisticated connection between machines and humans than primitive text user interfaces or even GUIs (graphical user interfaces), which still embraces the majority of input to keyboard and mouse.
However, the gesture recognition enables humans to interface with the machine (HMI) and interact naturally without any mechanical devices. Using the concept of gesture recognition, it is possible to point a finger at the computer screen so that the cursor will move accordingly. This could potentially make conventional input devices such as mouse, keyboards and even touch-screens redundant. Finally, gesture recognition can be conducted with techniques from computer vision and image processing.
In general, multi-touch requires a touch screen (screen, overlay, table, wall, etc.) or touchpad, as well as software that recognizes multiple simultaneous touch points, as opposed to the single touch screen, which recognizes only one touch point. This effect is achieved through a variety of means, including heat, finger pressure, high capture rate cameras, infrared light, optic capture, tuned electromagnetic induction, ultrasonic receivers, transducer microphones, laser rangefinders, and shadow capture.
Although the first hints and discussions of multi-touch technology appeared already at the end of 20th century, mainstream exposure to this technology occurred in 2007, when Apple unveiled the iPhone and Microsoft debuted surface computing. The iPhone in particular has spawned a wave of interest in multi-touch computing because it permits greatly increased user interaction on a small scale. Gradually more robust and user-friendly multi-touch and gesture-based solutions have been becoming available.
Windows 7 is the first version of Windows that supports multi-touch without the addition of third party add-ons.(See for more details Multi-Touch Systems that I Have Known and Loved by Bill Buxton). The operating system is known to have a multi-touch mapping application, photo viewing program, and incorporation in Internet Explorer 8. In January 2009, Microsoft joined with other investors who invested twenty-four million dollars in N-Trig Ltd., which plans to make computer hardware that takes advantage of Windows 7’s multi-touch support.
In the end let´s put some notes on a touch-aware version of Paint (formerly Paintbrush for Windows). It is a simple graphics painting program that has been included with all versions of Microsoft Windows. It is often referred to as MS Paint or Microsoft Paint. The program opens and saves files as Windows bitmap with the .bmp extension, JPEG, GIF (without animation), PNG (without alpha channel), and TIFF (without the multiple pages). The program can be in colour mode or two-colour black-and-white, but there is no grayscale mode. For its simplicity, it rapidly became one of the most used applications in the early versions of Windows and still has strong associations with the immediate usability of the old Windows workspace.
The Windows 7 version of paint makes use of the Ribbon UI (User Inteface). In GUI-based application software, a ribbon is an interface where a set of toolbars are placed on tabs in a tab bar. Recent releases of some Microsoft applications have comprised this form with an tricky modular ribbon as their main interface. The Ribbon can also contain tabs to expose different sets of control elements eliminating the need for a lot of different icon based toolbars.
It similarly provides “artistic” brushes composed of varying shades of gray and some transparency that give a more realistic result. In order to increase feeling of the realism, the oil and water colour brushes can only paint for a small distance before the user must re-click. This gives the illusion that the paint brush has run out of paint. It l has anti-aliased shapes as well, which can be resized freely until they are rasterised when another tool is selected. This version supports viewing (but not saving) transparent PNG and ICO file formats and saves in the PNG file format by default.
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