Multi-touch on resistive touchscreens - possible, at least

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One thing which Rafe witnessed at MWC was Stantum's demonstrations of some insanely responsive multi-touch applets working on a standard resistive touchscreen. Leaving aside the demo applets (and also Rafe's own comments, he's still writing up MWC as we speak), then surely this type of technology is what Nokia should be building into its touchscreen phones, so that text input can be increased over the currently limited speeds? Demo and more below.

I've said several times that one of the problems of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is that text input using the virtual, full-screen keyboard is on the slow side, possibly slower than using predictive text on a standard hardware keypad. The two main problems are:

  • There are no writing aids - Nokia needs to implement some kind of spelling correction, along the same lines as that on the Apple iPhone, which works brilliantly. At the moment, far too many miskeys are made, making the overall typing experience much slower.
  • The use of a standard resistive screen means that one 'keypress' isn't registered unless you've completely lifted your finger from the previous one. This produces an unnecessary speed restriction. There are two solutions here:
    1. Rewrite the existing touchscreen drivers to intelligently parse through the points of contact such that the driver can selectively ignore/handle multiple concurrent screen presses, working on the unique presses when available. This would give a theoretical doubling in virtual keyboard input speed and could be implemented fairly easily in a new firmware build.
    2. Change the resistive screen technology as per Stantum's guidelines, to allow true all-pixels monitoring and true multi-touch. This would obviously only be for future hardware and could be years away, but still worth thinking about and doing.

Engadget did a good job of videoing the Stantum demos and this is embedded below, for your interest.

Steve Litchfield