Touch Control

While sounding somewhat like a science fiction movie, UI or User Interface is an important part of how we interact with digital cameras. Jog knobs, multifunction controllers, dials, buttons, soft buttons, user programmable buttons and user programmable soft buttons are just part of the lexicon of digital devices.

What does this have to do with Photokina?

It seems every few months there is something new, and Photokina does not disappoint. Deleting images by drawing an “X” on the LCD with your finger is just one way of eliminating the trash can button. And as LCDs get bigger, removing buttons in critical.

But I sat through a demo of a new technique of controlling a camera this morning at Olympus. I was give a pair of thick winter gloves (an unwelcome reminder of what will soon be waiting for me back home–thank you very much) and as quick as you can say, “winter parking regulations are in effect,” I put them on.

Next I was given the compact Stylus 1050 SW camera. At first I thought I might be asked to change the memory card but instead I was told about the motion sensor built in to the camera. This sensor picks up “taps” on the camera. Simply tapping on the right side of the camera and I was able to turn on various camera effects. Tapping on the top of the camera will accept the setting.

Tapping on the LCD and the camera switches to playback mode. Now tapping on the side of the camera allows you to browse through the images. The tap control can be adjusted to your tapping strength.

While the gloves/weather demonstration is a good example to use for this technology, I immediately thought of the people who struggle with small buttons or having to grab their glasses to read the tiny icons on controls (insert obligatory reference to “aging generation”).

As with any new interface, it will be interesting to watch how this permeates other consumer devices.