This is really worth a read.
If the touch-sensitive surface on a mobile device were on the back instead, gestures like pointing, tapping, and selecting wouldn’t get in the way of the screen. At least, that’s the idea. But that creates a new challenge—seeing where your finger is going. So Baudisch’s team has been experimenting with a variety of approaches, including using transparent screens (which, unfortunately, don’t leave room for the electronic guts of most devices) and attaching a boom with a camera to a device’s backside (which is predictably clunky). Baudisch’s newest prototype, and the one he described yesterday, is called nanoTouch. It’s a squarish little gadget resembling an iPod nano, with a 2.4-inch screen that dominates the front and a capacative trackpad similar to the mousepad on a laptop computer attached to the back.
This rear-touch interface is incredibly interesting and very significant for portable devices but there’s more. Wade Roush, the author of the article, goes on to highlight dual-screen interfaces too. He highlights two OQO devices hooked up into a dual-screen scenario with additional accelerometers that control screen orientation. It’s right up there with the roll-out screen as a distruptive technology. Don’t expect this to appear too soon though.
“The technology isn’t quite there to put dual-screen devices into production. Indeed, the second-generation OLPC device, while sexy, has all the signs of being vaporware. But Microsoft and other companies have poured too much money into tablet- and pen-based computing to let the technology’s development stop now. As Hinckley put it to me after his talk, “This is eventually going to happen. If Microsoft doesn’t do it, somebody else will. So it’s really important to understand what the issues are.”
The video below (from New Scientist) show the rear-touch interface.
Take a look at the full article: At CHI Meeting, Microsoft Turns Computing Interfaces on Their Head, and Side, and Back | Xconomy.