“We are now witnessing the emergence of a new user interface for digital devices, including laptop computers, advanced cellphones, wireless portable data gadgets and other types of computing products,” Walter S. Mossberg reports for The Wall Street Journal. “This interface is generally called ‘multitouch,’ and it involves using one or more fingers on a screen or touchpad to perform special gestures that manipulate lists or objects on a screen — without moving a mouse, pressing buttons, turning scroll wheels or striking keys.”

MacDailyNews Note: Headroom, Uncle Walt, headroom. Headroom is the space left between the top of the head and the upper screen edge. Nice crown moulding, but tilt down that camera, Walt! All of your videos look like they were shot by a drunk Orson Welles.

Mossberg continues, “The best-known example of the interface is on Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch devices. It allows you, for example, to rapidly flip through photos, lists of emails or song titles by merely ‘flicking’ a fingertip on its screen, or to resize a photo by ‘pinching’ the image with two fingers. And, this month, Apple moved some of these multitouch features onto a laptop, its new MacBook Air, where fingertip actions are performed on an oversized touchpad rather than on a screen.”

“On Apple’s MacBook Air, the touchpad still allows you to use one finger to move the cursor and click like a mouse can. But, optionally, it can do much more using multitouch gestures,” Mossberg reports. “You can rotate photos by just touching two fingers to the touchpad and moving the images on the screen as you wish. You can quickly move back and forth through a series of Web pages or photos by ‘swiping,’ or placing three fingers on the touchpad and moving them rapidly sideways. And you can shrink or expand a photo, or zoom in and out on a Web page, by pinching the image.”

“All recent Mac laptops, not just the new Air, have the optional ability to scroll through a screen without using any button or special zone on the touchpad. You just place two fingers, instead of one, anywhere on the touchpad and drag them across its surface,” Mossberg reports.

“Apple didn’t invent the multitouch concept. Academic and commercial researchers, and small, obscure companies, have been working on it for years. Apple is adapting the concept, adding its own ideas and popularizing it — just as it did in the 1980s with the mouse and the graphical user interface, which had also been invented elsewhere,” Mossberg reports. “Rival companies are scrambling to add multitouch features to laptops and other digital gadgets.”

Read more in the full article here.