With surprising accuracy, Nicholas Negroponte predicts what will happen with CD-ROMs, web interfaces, service kiosks, the touchscreen interface of the iPhone and his own One Laptop per Child project.
But imagine that screen having lots of objects on it and the person has touched an object – one of N – like he did there, and then pushed on it. Now, imagine a program where some of those objects are physically heavy and some are light: one is an anvil on a fuzzy rug and the other one is a ping-pong ball on a sheet of glass. And when you touch it, you have to really push very hard to move that anvil across the screen, and yet you touch the ping-pong ball very lightly and it just scoots across the screen. And what you can do – oops, I didn’t mean to do that – what you can do is actually feed back to the user the feeling of the physical properties. So again, they don’t have to be weight; they could be a general trying to move troops, and he’s got to move an aircraft carrier versus a little boat. In fact, they funded it for that very reason.