How Touchscreens May Have Delayed Humanity's Progress: A Multi-Trillion Dollar Mistake?

The kids of developing world could not use phones to engineer for decades, and the "remote control" capabilities are not the focus of smart phone industry even today.

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Looking back to our history, we may discover, that the premature introduction of touchscreens have been among the worst innovations ever, that had delayed humanity's progress in numerous fields from software and hardware engineering to remote control domains.

With the focus on "what can be done with a flat touchscreen", we may have wasted countless hours of front-end developers to soft-innovate ways of touching, instead of pushing hardware engineers to hard-innovate better input hardware form factor, that prevented the creation of "precision remote control" input capabilities for the masses, degrading the masses to the behaviors of scrolling with a thumb.

1. Touchscreens delayed software and hardware engineering

Back in the days of Nokia 9000 Communicator, and IRC chat, we had a trend of developing mini hand-held PCs (see: modern variant). Imagine that a touchscreen and PDA were not invented, and instead, people would have evolved those hand-held PCs, to the point where keyboard went behind (like explained in: Hankeyboard idea), allowing for blind touch-typing with 10 fingers, while viewing the screen (a bit like with modern "PlayStation Portable" (PSP), but with full keyboard at the back of it). This kind of device would have revolutionized the input, making it possible to compose and write code, even develop software with such mobile devices. However, even with powerful CPUs, smart phone form factor was not suitable for any desktop work, so kids in developing world, who had grown up with a smart phone rather than a computer in hand, had been prevented from this potential creativity.

If we had no touchscreens, it is imaginable that mobile keyboard and mouse would have evolved, and made it possible to use such "Communicators" to both write software and even use CAD software to engineer. With billions of smart phones produced, just imagine what billions of hand-held PCs could have done in the hands of the developing world, enabling every kid to program and do CAD engineering… yet it didn't happen. What a loss.

2. Touchscreens are delaying remote control technology

Touchscreens may look futuristic, yet virtually no gamers are using them: they prefer joysticks and real buttons instead, even today, in the time of touchscreen abundance. I'm sure there are reasons for it.

Moreover, the abundance of touchscreens today mean that app developers continue to waste time on innovating on what can be done with a thumb, instead of what could be done with 10 fingers on a joystick system, and there can be done a lot with a joystick system: remote control-focused hand-helds are used today to control robotic dogs and drones.

If not for the introduction of touchscreens, it is reasonable to assume that these fully-featured hand-held remote-control devices would be abundant today, allowing for an immense on-line workforce to do diverse equipment control: allowing from kids to professionals  -  play and learn building and fixing things via remote control.

What can be done to fix this?

While the damage that has been done cannot be un-done, we could:

  • (A) Create adapters for phones to make them into remote-control devices by creating joystick-like plastic housings with keyboards at the back, like described in "Hankeyboard".
  • (B) Mass-produce cheap-yet-convenient heads-up display adapters, like Ximmerse has been doing, to allow smart-phones be reused as control devices, reading our hand movements as a form of input.

However, both (A) and (B) are interfering with normal use of smart-phones that most people are used to, creating inconveniences of switching (taking out, plugging in) the phone into handler, which wouldn't have been a problem, if people were to be used to handheld PC form factor, and already had specialized pockets and habits for them.


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[Ason], "Software devours hardware" - Well, this tendency may be a special case of a more abstract phenomenon. Specific: People are unlikely to re-invent facilities and equipment, and many will be created on the basis of existing ones. Give people paper and people will create books. Give people a flat screen, and people will create flat applications.

Of course, there are also phenomena in the opposite direction: because of the car, it drives the road construction without thinking about new modes of transportation.

For example, I think if there is no car, our city may already have a common rail-based automatic elevator routing system from people to people and things. Maybe 50 years ago, there was no need for self-driving cars, because automatic elevators are already It is automatic, just like the router has automatically routed the bits. By the way, because of the car, the train in the United States has not been developed until now.

Will previously popular inventions eat up development resources?

[Ason],「软件吞噬硬件」 -- 嗯,这个倾向呢,可能是更抽象的现象的特例。具体:人不太会重新发明设施设备,而很多会在已经存在的基础上创造。给人纸,人会创造书。给人平的屏幕,人会创造平的应用。

当然,也有逆方向的现象:因为有了车,它驱动了道路建设,而没有想了新的运输方式。

比如,我觉得如果没有了车,我们城市可能已经有了普遍的基于铁轨的从们到们送人和东西的自动电梯路由系统,可能50年前已经不需要了自动驾驶汽车,因为自动电梯已经是自动了,就像路由器已经自动路由比特。顺便, 因为车,在美国火车到现在还没有发达了。

以前流行过的发明会吞噬开发资源?


This idea is very interesting, very similar to the problem of software swallowing hardware that I thought of many years ago. After the large-scale promotion of touch screens, many new consumer electronics products are guided by software.

这个想法很有意思,和我很多年前想到的软件吞噬硬件的问题很像。触摸屏大规模推广后,很多新的电子消费品都是由软件来指导设计方向。


Regarding the idea of hankeyboard, I feel like GameSir company and iPega The company can change its own equipment, attach the keyboard at the back, and solve. I wrote some emails to them about the designers who wanted to contact them. You may also need to contact the Sony PSP partition. Of course, the normal way is that I take the idea of Hankeyboard to make drawings, then obtain a patent for it, and then run a new company to manufacture and market it. However, this kind of thing will definitely require a lot of my time and specific concentration. Another way is to share with these companies to create a consulting relationship.

Assume that my priority is not personal return, but also the benefits of humans: you think the most effective way for humans to quickly replace their mobile phones with precision remote controls for universal software development. How should I connect in society in order to accelerate this development?

有关那个 hankeyboard 的想法呢,我觉得如 GameSir公司 和 iPega公司 可以更改自己的设备,附加在后面的键盘,而解决。对他们写了一些邮件,关于希望联系他们的设计师们。可能也要联系 Sony PSP 分区。当然,正常的路,就是我把那个 Hankeyboard 的想法去做图纸,然后把它得到专利,然后运行新公司制造而营销它。但是,这样的事肯定会需要不少我的时间,特定的专注。另外的方式,就是跟这些公司分享,创造咨询关系。

假设我的优先不是个人回报,而且人类的好处:你们觉得最有效的让人类快点把手机换成通用的软件开发用的精密遥控器。我应该如何在社会中联系,为了加速这个发展吗?


Very novel point of view. Touch screens have become popular unconsciously, and few people think that the precise movements of human hands may be degraded.

很新颖的观点。触摸屏不知不觉就流行起来了,很少有人想到人类的手的精确动作可能会退化的问题。


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