The team observed that in the light of a rising number of tablets and other computing devices where indirect mouse cursor interaction is replaced by direct touch interaction, scrollbars in their traditional form should be removed from screens. Instead, this screen real estate should be freed up for displaying the actual content a user is interested in, aiding orientation and readability on the small screens typically found on touch interaction devices. However, on desktop computers equipped with a mouse and large screen, scrollbars need to continue to have their place given that countless legacy applications will not be compatible with other forms of direct interaction scrolling such as dragging screen content up and down.
In this context, I believe the team at Canonical has found an innovative approach to unify both scrolling concepts as shown in the video below. I am looking forward to using the final design when I upgrade my desktop’s Ubuntu installation to release 11 when it comes out end of April.