Year of the Rooster, End of the Mouse?
Posted: 12.30.04 - By Michelle Maisto

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<p>Unlike a traditional touchpad, iGesture consists of two main components—a Hand Imaging Surface and a Gesture Processor, which closely watches the touch surface to see what your fingers are up to. The FingerWorks brochure states:<br>
Interacting with MultiTouch is a form of communication. You generate gestures and the Gesture Processor reads them and tries to interpret the meaning of your gestures. You can easily confuse the Gesture Processor if you don't communicate clearly—just like you can confuse a careful listener if you garble your speech. The MultiTouch unit will serve you well if you communicate with it clearly.<br>
Therein lies the challenge.<br>
On most updated operating systems, no installation is required; plug in the iGesture Pad and it's ready to go. First-time users, however, will likely not find it a plug-and-play experience. The learning curve is significant, a fact that FingerWorks is quick to admit and works earnestly to alleviate.<br>
iGesture comes with several reference guides of finger/hand gestures, and on the FingerWorks Web site there are numerous demonstrations to follow. There are simple “mouse-substitution” gestures, as well as gestures to substitute text cursors, Internet browsing and applications control, among others. For example, to “click,” lightly tap any two adjacent fingers; to “double-click,” tap three adjacent fingertips. To scroll, touch four fingers to the pad and slide them up or down. To perform the same tasks with a mouse, one would have to press down her finger on the mouse—and while a seemingly harmless movement, the accumulations of these clicks over months and years has led to debilitating pain in many mouse users—whereas with the iGesture Pad, one is simply relaxing the hand and raising and lowering certain fingers. There's also a lot less overall arm and hand movement required, especially when working in more complicated applications, such as QuarkXpress, Photoshop or Serato Scratch.<br>

The iGesture Pad can be used with any application because the user can program the pad to perform X task based on Y gesture; users can also re-program pre-programmed gestures and tasks. At least, that's what the FingerWorks literature says. Personally, I never got that far. Over two days' time, I managed to master click, double-click, scroll and drag, but I still couldn't manage the simple, self-imposed assignment of copy a news story from the web and pasting it into a Word document. And neither could the colleague I asked to try it as well, after showing him all of the illustrations of the necessary gestures.<br>
A FingerWorks case study describes a music director and composer who was suffering from severe wrist pain, discovered the iGesture Pad and fell in love with it. Though not immediately. “The first few days were really difficult and it slowed him down immensely—he'd been using a mouse since the mid-80s and this was a whole new paradigm. He stuck at it, and by the end of the week he was adapting quite well. By the end of the month, he'd decided that this thing was magic.” Gradually, his wrist pain disappeared all together.<br>
A quick look at gaming chat rooms and the user feedback section of the FingerWorks Web site reveals that a lot of gamers have adopted iGesture as well. Because the movement of a finger can be faster and be more precise than a mouse-click, they've found it to be an advantage. Likewise, I can see how it would be an advantage for those using other complex applications, and even for basic word-processing tasks. It seems that the more time one puts into mastering the product, the greater advantages it yields.<br>
Those blessed with the virtue of patience—and that still rarer commodity, time—just may bring about the popular acceptance of this clearly evolved concept, and usher out the mouse as we know it.</p>


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