From what I've heard the touch screen in the middle can be used in anyway designers would like to utilize it. But Sony is primarily using it as a means to communicate with your friends on the PS3 network. Instead of having to navigate the X-bar and respond to messages/add friends/accept invites, etc., you can quickly tap a response on there when a message is received. It makes a chime sound when these come in through the speaker on there. It can also be used for communication during a voice chat.