In truth, I never liked the distance of hand-to-eye co-ordination that ‘mice’ as an input device forced me to adopt for design work. That’s why I got excited years ago when I first heard of an interactive drawing board that you could literally sit over with your tee-square, like designers and architects used to, yet look down onto a screen. It was supposed to be a sort of a cross between a Wacom tablet and a Quantel Paintbox that responded to digital rotring pens/magic markers/airbrush/whatever, affording the flexibility of modern design software with the ergonomics of a board mounted on a pivotable stand. I thought it was around the corner and here I am still waiting.
Even now, one of the key problems I have with interactive TV is the whole ‘click red’ concept, which does not give me pixel-based control of my TV screen from across the room in a way I have become accustomed to on my PC. It just seems so obvious to replace my remote with a laser pointer.
Well I have patiently waited for technology and aesthetics to combine in my world of increasing interactivity, and here are three such devices which just bring me hope…
The I/O Brush lets you ‘pick up and paint’ with everyday objects as ink. It looks like a regular physical paintbrush but has a small video camera with lights and touch sensors embedded inside. Whether you are pointing your brush at a watermelon or a dog, this clever device allows you to paint with the texture you have just captured as your brush-stroke. Not only limited to colour and texture, movements are what make this interesting. Point the brush for a few seconds at a person’s eye blinking and when you paint, you replicate that same movie clip as you’re moving the brush around.