Collaborating Through Touch

There's been leaps in human-machine interfaces for consumer electronics over the last few years courtesy of the touch interface from the Apple iPhone.

I'm very interested in where touch interfaces can lead us when considering collaboration between multiple people and much larger surfaces.

I recently became aware of Collusion, an app and a dongle that allows you to collaborate in real-time on the same canvas using iPad.

It looks very impressive and gives an indication of the possibilities touch screen interfaces might bring to collaboration. In the end it is ultimately limited by the size of the iPad screen. I don't know about you but I'm much better at processing information, seeing patterns and understanding the interactions to do with the problem at hand if I can see a wide range of information in my visual field.

That's why the following product video caught my attention. It shows a group of "doctors" analysing information about a patient using a large touch screen surface.

/via Visualizing Data

While it looks a little staged and very use-case specific, the general idea is interesting. I'd be happy with something like Omnigraffle on a digital canvas that size than many people could work on at once.

I would think that the next frontier will be scaling touch interfaces to a size where multiple people can work together - multi-touch, multi-person.