Touched by touch
Telstra released a summary of the inaugural Telstra Smartphone Index recently, and the results would seem to be pretty clear. Australia loves ‘em. I thought I’d ponder some reasons why that might be.
The speed of touch:
The speed of light, the speed of sound – neither surpass the instantness of touch (or the perception thereof, as the case may be) Wherever we are, our devices are too – (according to the above report, even on the loo!) and through those devices, the ever expanding metaverse of the internet is ready and waiting for us. And with the leaps and bounds technology provides in terms of processing speed, both on the device itself and in shuttling information down the ‘intertubes’, we’re waiting less time for more information.
The psychology of touch:
Some research shared out over Twitter a while ago drew my attention and led me down one of those great rabbitholes you can fall into (with the aforementioned speed) of browsing the web. Eventually I came to The Power of Touch, research looking at the association between touch, and the value we attribute to ‘stuff’. While the details are a little boring, evidently the research concluded that the more we touch something, the more we value it.
To me this seems fair enough – touch is one of the earliest senses to develop and we use it every day to experience and manipulate the world immediately around us.
After reading the research on touch and value I thought Aha! Surely, this explains the devotion, the commitment of smartphone users to their ‘weapon of choice’. Of course then, I was thinking only of the ‘fanboy’ type folks (which, perhaps a little sadly, I must admit to being myself. Just a little bit.) The beauty of any touchscreen device, is that it literally brings the world around us (though admittedly in digital form) to our very fingertips. So I figured that those of us on the ‘cutting edge’ who form these ‘meta’ connections must value them more, which in turn fires off our fierce connection to the device itself.
This new survey however, would seem to suggest that the impact of this touch-value is wider spread than I first imagined.
The Power of touch:
Touch itself binds us, in the closest possible ways – whether it’s that of a lovers hand held tight, the flying fists of a schoolyard fight or the closest, oldest (and arguably most important) touch of all – the reciprocal brush of hand or foot on the walls of a mother’s womb. Touch is, by its very nature, the closest we as individuals can come to a sense that – just nearly – allows us to not just be “I” but a part of “Us”.
Regardless of the ‘smartness’ of your device, the primary function of any mobile device is communication. And what is communication if not ‘keeping in touch’? So perhaps it’s not the device that we value – but the information itself, the connection.
Something I’m constantly ribbed for at home is how much I ‘talk with my hands’ (get me fired up in conversation about something and from a distance you’d be forgiven for thinking I was putting on some kind of kung-fu demonstration) and while there is some evidence to support the theory this means I’m somewhat evolutionarily behind my non-excessively gesturing friends, to me it feels as though I’m adding to the conversation in a physical way, sculpting context into the conversation.
I get a similar sense of this construction of communication from interacting with a touchscreen device. There’s something indisputably satisfying, empowering even, about using my hands to communicate – physically creating an awareness of it both for myself, and for the other party or parties involved.
When I’m using my HTC Desire, this takes an almost literal sense – be it pinch-zooming a map out to view a city from on high , sling-shotting Angry Birds at no-good egg stealing pigs, or tapping away at the screen to create an opus of my beloved words (the idea of which I myself scoffed at mere months ago) there’s something about physically manipulating the info on my Desire that I just don’t get from the disparate keyboard, mouse and screen of my desktop PC, or even wielding the stylus of older model smartphones.
The future of touch:
There is a kind of irony here in that this new breed of communication puts to good use the best of cutting edge technology to bring back one of the oldest – bringing the way we connect (and now, at a global scale) full circle.
So what do you think – do you feel you value your experience from a smartphone more because of the touchscreen experience? Or is it ‘touching’ the information itself that we enjoy? With the announcement of our forthcoming Telstra T-Touch Tab device – the opportunity to ‘touch’ each other with text, pics, audio & video are only going to increase – will you be part of this re-evolution of touch?
So c’mon folks – ‘tag’ – you’re it.