Origins of iPhone Multi-Touch... the Piano?!

Steve Jobs: Architect of the iPhone

We know the score. Apple now holds a veritable smorgasbord of multi-touch patents, some dating way back before the iPhone, and some coming from their 2005 acquisition of a company called Fingerworks, and the innovative talents of Wayne Westerman and John Elias. But from whence did they draw their inspiration? MacRumors pulls the relevant quote from a University of Delware article:

"I had an ergonomic problem and I paired it with a motivation," Westerman said of the early inspiration. "I'd always felt that playing the piano was so much more graceful and expressive than using a computer keyboard, and I thought how great it would be if I pulled some of that expression from the piano to the computer experience."

Having suffered plenty of joint/wrist injuries, I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to type with traditional, hard smartphone keyboards. I abandoned my old Treo 680 when it was too physically painful to push in the tiny keys anymore. The iPhone, however, is nothing but a pleasure, so the above comments truly resonate with me.

It's also interesting to note that history aside, Apple is also looking towards the future, with job listings for multi-touch ninja "gesture algorithm" wizards.

So anyone else going to jump on the piano and try to figure out what iPhone 3.0 might hold for us?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Origins of iPhone Multi-Touch... the Piano?!


It is really pleasant typing on the iPhone compared to hard keyboards. Certainly easier on the hands/wrists. I think the reality is, most smartphones will have software keyboards in the long term. Blackberry will probably be the only mainstream manufacturer regularily using a hardware one.

"Blackberry will probably be the only mainstream manufacturer regularily using a hardware one."
And therefore Blackberry will be the only platform where you can really achieve any speed.
Pleasant is not the adjective I would have chosen.
Slow, inaccurate, full of errors and need for continuous correction, all fit the bill for describing the apple keyboard.
Lets face it:
Keyboards, physical or virtual, universally suck.
Download the google app. Install it. Hold it up to your ear and recite what you want to search for. Its uncannily accurate.
That's where this is going IMHO.

Full of mistakes?
I have no trouble with it but as you say google app is one way to go.