My Tablet

With 2 weeks missing for Apple Tablet presentation, speculation is ramping up.
As smart commentators point out, there is a major problem with such a device:
How would you use it, from bare usability stand point?

Either it’s on resting on a flat surface, and you have unacceptable ergonomics, with your hands hiding the screen and your neck bent at an angle that your EHS department won’t permit.
Or you’re holding it in your hands on front of you. But how do you use the touch screen if your fingers are behind the tablet?

Apple will for sure come with the solution, that will feel so natural and simple that all speculations like mine will look a bit stupid two week from now.

My take on the Tablet:
Why not make the back side of the tablet a touch sensitive surface and show the fingers as an overlay of the user interface?

tablet with touch surface behind

Fingers that are merely resting on the surface would show a small, transparent “finger print” while the active finger would be more visible, for example with a black circle representing the pressure applied.
This would enable multi finger gestures, and give natural feedback, both visual and tactile.

Such a device with a screen on the front side and a tactile surface on the back side would work well in the two natural positions:
- Held with both hands, mid-air
- Held with both hands, but with hands resting on a table. This one provides a nice 45 degrees angle, and it’s comfortable for long sessions (like watching a movie).

I am not excluding that the screen would also be tactile.

What about the keyboard?
It’s hard to imagine interacting with a software keyboard operated from behind the screen, but why not? With the appropriate visual feedback, it seems plausible.

Such a device layout has another advantage: the touch surface doesn’t need to be exactly as big as the screen, it can be dimensioned to work well with standard hands size.

If ever it comes true, remember that you’ve read it here first!