The rapid spread of touchscreen computing devices like smartphones and tablets is creating a generation of children that Intel calls the “Touch Generation” – and they’re heralding a new era that fundamentally changes the way we interact with computers.
Walk through any shopping mall, and watch how parents soothe their fussy toddlers: no longer do they give them a dummy, but a smartphone. Reared by digitally connected parents, this new uber-connected generation is not only comfortable using touchscreen computers, but they are intuitively touching screens and flipping through apps with ease, says Intel marketing manager Ntombezinhle Modiselle.
“Today’s kids are so completely at ease with navigating and flicking their way through my devices to get to the latest game on my smart phone or tablet,” says Ms Modiselle. “They just see Mom and Dad on their phones all the time, and they want to play, too.”
This innate aptitude to easily use a touch-enabled device, with limited prior instruction, is not limited to personal computing. Touch screen televisions, ATMs and mall information kiosks are already part and parcel of our daily lives, and children are rapidly leap-frogging the older generations as they get to grips with the new interfaces.
“We are at a significant stage in the evolution of how we interact with technology. The rise of the touch generation is not only set to change the way we interact with our technology, but it is also changing the type of technology we will demand in future,” says Ms Modiselle.
Application developers are responding to this age group by providing more and more education-rich touch content on smart phones and tablets. Research done by Nielsen in the United States among households with under-12 year olds showed 77% are using it to play games while 57% use it for educational purposes.
“Over the years, it has been is interesting to watch this trend unfold, and marketers and decision-makers of technology companies need to take note,” she says. “In 2009, according to market-research firm Gartner, only 2% of devices bought for the under 15-year old market had touch features. In 2015, about 50% of computers that will be bought for that market will feature a touch screen.”
As prices drop in future, education will become a huge benefactor of touch-enabled devices. Improvement in user interface, ergonomics and software as well as further price drops will further lead to wider adoption by adult consumers.
“After that phase, I see it gradually being accepted in the workplace. We’ve seen this happening even here at Intel. Employees are bringing in their own devices to work – many of them touch-enabled – and expect it to be integrated with their office device.”
“Within the next 10 to 15 years, the touch generation will have graduated from the school of touch where interaction with technology will seem totally natural and intuitive, just as it is for your two-year old,” predicts Ms Modiselle.
Insight from Ntombezinhle Modiselle, marketing manager at Intel
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