8.2. Gestures and No Pen

The keyboard still seems to win out over the pen for data input. Where the pen has always done well is for pointing and issuing commands. The fine control of the pen, though, is not needed for many applications. Even more importantly, in handheld devices, needing to use a cumbersome, easy-to-lose pen is at a disadvantage compared to systems where you can point and gesture with just your fingers directly on the screen.

Here is an essay about interacting with a computer screen that is sensitive to contact with a person's fingers.

Gestures, the iPhone, and Standards: A Developer's Questions

A discussion of the nature and use of gestures in a computer controlled by screen contact and some of the issues with regard to developing standards

The release of the Apple iPhone (and now the iPod Touch) has renewed interest in computing devices controlled by gestures. Over the years, I've been writing about different devices with direct hand input (either by touch and/or pen) and it's time to do it again.[]


This essay is going to address the issue of a gesture-based interface.

In the "real" world, a gesture is a motion of the limbs or an act made to express a thought or as a symbol of intent. You gesture to your waiter to come over and see the fly in your soup, or wave an oncoming car past your stopped car. You make hand gestures to express disgust and anger at others, or to signal approval and disapproval (thumbs up and thumbs down).

These gestures ...

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