The consequence of touch

The other day I saw what is probably going to be an increasingly common sight. On the way to lunch, I passed an internet cafe that had icons decorating its glass shopfront. The icons were of consistent design, squares with rounded corners, very Apple-esque but they weren’t icons I recognised from existing products or services. That is, I guess the shop owners made them up to look ‘high tech’.

Anyway, as I walked past, a little boy–probably about 4 or 5 years old–was walking along the shopfront pressing the icons with his hand. As he pressed each one, and got no response, he got more frustrated. He’s obviously used a touch screen device such as an iPad, and so just assumed that these icons on the shop windows could also be ‘touched to activate’. When a simple touch failed to work, he progressed to running along the row of icons, touching all of them in quick succession. Still nothing happened.

Will all future generations be so disappointed by our non-interactive built environment?