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Touchless Gestures: Losing Sight of What’s Important

Before I begin, I would like to say that if you have read my previous post about setting up ADB, I promise part two is coming. It is just…involved.
I recently read an article about the “Samsung Galaxy SIV” introducing touchless gestures for screen navigation. First and foremost, nothing about the next phone in the Galaxy S series has even remotely been announced yet, just people saying “it would be cool if…” and assuming the GSIV will make their dreams come true.
However, this technology – floating touch – is possibly something we could see in the near future. And I’m here to tell you That. Would. Be Terrible.
For those of you who cannot watch the demo video in the link above, touchless gestures are a newly developed way of interacting with your mobile device by keeping your thumb or finger just above the surface of the screen, much like one would use a stylus on a Wacom tablet.
It would appear that the only application for a feature like this would be to add hover functionality to the mobile web / mobile apps; a feature that has been missing from mobile devices since mobile devices existed, and a feature that no one expects a mobile device to have in the future. Stop right there, because I know what you are thinking.
“But this is perfect! Now we don’t have to worry about degrading our :hover styles for the mobile web!”
Again I say to you, “Poppycock!” Floating touch gestures will be cool and super innovative and mind blowing and everyone will want them. But not everyone will get them. Just like every other new, super innovative technology, every device manufacturer will not adopt it for a long time, if it is even adopted by them at all. We would still need to assume that it is a technology that is nice-to-have, but not fully supported.
The user experience of something like this also needs to be taken into consideration. The way we interact with our touch devices is a learned behavior that we have all already learned. Why disrupt that with something that will force us to re-learn how to use our device?
I strongly believe that we should be pushing the boundaries of technology and creating new and innovative things, but we mustn’t lose sight of why innovation is important. New technologies should be helping to make our lives easier. As the saying goes, progress for the sake of progress must be discouraged.

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Zach Handing

I'm a front-end developer working at Perficient Digital, and I'm passionate about HTML, CSS, and grilling chicken.

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