Designing Interactions

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Bert Keely

Bert Keely is interviewed in Chapter 3 – From the Desk to the Palm. He shows how far the pen based interactions have come since the first tablet computer developed by Jeff Hawkins, or the early Palm operating system design by Rob Haitani.

Bert declares his ambition, “The essence of what I’m trying to bring to the personal computer, you should probably think of as a tablet mode, that is, the easy option of using the computer with one hand, even when you’re holding it with the other. While speech, touch, and buttons will all have a role, the pen is the most exciting tool with which to do that in the current generation of PCs.” Bert joined Microsoft in 1998, working first on software for electronic books, and then on a skunkworks tablet PC project, designed to help people take notes silently and intuitively in face-to-face meetings; this was launched as a service pack on top of Windows in 2002. Since then, Bert has been leading the efforts at Microsoft to improve the design of the tablet PC, earning the title of “architect of tablet PCs and mobility.”

Bert describes and demonstrates tablet mode, showing that although the handwriting recognition is not yet as fast as typing when considered separately, the advantage of being able to quickly execute commands with the stylus as you work can compete with mouse and keyboard, while leaving one hand free.

Bert Keely holding an Acer TravelMate Tablet PC. Photo Nicolas Zurcher.