Computer touch screens for seniors

Eliminating the mouse from our computer use diet seems like a real possibility, especially when you  consider the number of touch screen technologies now available. The idea of touching the screen instead of moving an arrow around seems not only more intuitive, but also easier.

However, the way our computers are currently set up was not designed for this type of control. Many people adopting touch screen monitors for their desktop computers are having a little trouble. If you are a PC user, you’re likely familiar with Windows 7, Microsoft’s most recent operating
system. It was designed to be controlled by a mouse. As such, icons, menus, buttons, and other points of contact within Windows 7 are relatively small, with anticipation that the user with interact with a mouse pointer, not their finger tip on the screen.

Through our experience working with adults 55+ in retirement homes that have these early touch screen monitors, we find it’s often challenging for users to be precise enough to use Windows 7. For instance, when closing a program, the user often needs to tap the “X” to exit the program 3-4 times before they manage to press the exact spot necessary to activate the button.

A similar result happens when trying to tap buttons on Facebook and in web email, such as Gmail. Luckily, Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 8, being released later this fall has been redesigned specifically for touch screen monitors. As a result, he way we use and control our laptop and desktop computers is about to change substantially over the next 2 years.

The technology will get not only better, but cheaper too. In short, until there is a mainstream touch oriented operating system available for Windows based computers; hold off on investing in a touch screen monitor. Can you believe we’ll eventually phase out keyboards too? It’s almost hard to imagine. For those with the ability to type quickly… not too far down the road, that might be a useless skill. Who would have thought?