Gorilla Arm

silverback_gorillaThose who know me well have probably heard me talk about Microsoft’s gamble with Windows 8 and the touchscreen experience.  I think the new version of Windows does show a TON of innovation, but I’m not sure it’s the kind of innovation that everyone wants.  In a touchscreen environment, like the Surface, it may actually make sense.  But until the PC is really dead and we’ve given up on having monitors sitting in front of us (even touchscreen ones), the mouse and keyboard is a great experience that most of us really like… AND it’s intuitive enough that even kids grasp the concepts easily.

Of all of the articles I’ve read on the topic, this one from ScientificAmerican.com does a great job explaining the concept they call “gorilla arm.”

When Windows 7 came out, offering a touch mode for the first time, I spent a few weeks living with a couple of touch-screen PCs. It was a miserable experience. Part of the problem was that the targets—buttons, scroll bars and menus that were originally designed for a tiny arrow cursor—were too small for fat human fingers.

The other problem was the tingling ache that came from extending my right arm to manipulate that screen for hours, an affliction that has earned the nickname of gorilla arm. Some experts say gorilla arm is what killed touch computing during its first wave in the early 1980s.

Read the entire article here.

What do you think?  Do you believe that the mouse and keyboard are going away any time soon?  Can you do your job in a touchscreen-only environment?



  1. I sure hope it doesn’t take over. I see this gambit by Microsoft as the latest acquiescence to their self-esteem issues generated by Apple’s dominance. All flash and no substance.

    The mouse and keyboard inputs have been with us for so long for one very good reason. They work well. I’m a firm believer of not fixing things that aren’t broken, and on a computer that I have to use for 9+ hours a day, they simply aren’t broken.

    I can’t ever imagine typing 100+ words a minute on a keyboard I can’t feel. Maybe a new generation of open minded learners won’t have this shortcoming, but I find it hard to believe that the tactile-less glass is better suited to speed and accuracy.

    For hybrid devices, this is fine, but I don’t get why anyone would WANT an inferior input devices. It makes more sense to try to integrate both methods seamlessly than to try to force you to do it a specific way. I thought forcing you to do it ‘their way’ was Apples philosophy, but Microsoft is now a follower.

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