10. 31. 2006
Productive fun with Wacom's Cintiq
Kevin Kelley recently picked up a 21 inch Cintiq drawing display, and he's in love with it. The Wacom Cintiq is an LCD monitor with a touch screen sensor embedded over the image. Essentially it's a cross between a graphic artist's drawing tablet and an LCD monitor. Differing from standard touch screen monitors is the 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity that the input area is able to discern, and the unique "pen on paper" texture of dragging a pen across the surface. Kelly bought his $2,500 Cintiq on the recommendation of artist Scott McCloud who has said that the input method made him more productive, and completely eliminated the symptoms of his hand strain malady.
Wacom released the first Cintiq tablet seven years ago. It was a 15 inch flat panel touch screen display, and a lot of geeks discounted it as a one shot gimmick. Personally, I thought that it was a glorious evolution in computer hardware, and I remember dreaming of when the technology would be the standard for all computers. Sadly, prices of desktop tablet monitors have remained high enough that only professional interests, such as design houses and graphic artists, can justify the expense. I'd love to install one at home, but it's a hard sell when I didn't even spend $2,500 on my tricked out desktop!
We're just now sorting through the interface issues of tablet computing, but progress is being made... slowly. Some industries will have an easier time making a move to an alternative input scheme: video game controls are well suited to this type of human interface. The Nintendo DS has been an overwhelming success in part because of the novelty and utility of the touch screen, and the hands-on Starcraft video floating around is nothing short of sexy. Ben Kuchera disagrees with me, but I think that this is the direction that all computer interfaces will move towards if the public can ever afford to adopt the hardware en mass.