Core S2 Software Solutions

Future UI Technology

Older article from Lost in Dev; originally written by Jeremy Bridon.

The mouse and keyboard combination have been here for a while. The original computer mouse with a windowing UI system first hit the market with the Xerox Star Computer back in 1981. Even though it was a great idea and a powerful technology, it saddens me to see we haven’t at all evolved human-computer input passed that. Even with better graphics and faster processors, it’s all the same file system with the same windowing system with the same mouse and keyboard. If you ask me, this technology is overdue for a revolution.

What is important now is to find great new technology and see how they can improve our current computer user interfaces. Our goal should be to advance the UI and not overcomplicate it. I think, just like in software, there is no such thing as a final solution, meaning there is always a better way of doing something. Take, for instance, this great idea of head tracking from a Carnegie-Mellon University student using the Nintendo Wii Console:

Even though it seems to be more for a video-game application, I can imagine this used for standard computer applications. What this device may do is make a windowing system become more intuitive and interactive. If you think about it, a two dimensional image with an active window and non-active windows can be confusing to new computer users. Adding three-dimensional depth will clarify how windows may be organized by depth-order. The idea does not stop there. Imagine if we can even touch these windows (in the air) and interact with them. A minimalistic approach, by the same concept as the above video, is to use an array of IR emitters to reflect on a special tape on the tip of the user’s fingers so that the computer can see where the fingers are and their depth compared to the virtual image.

You think this might not work? Ask an elderly person or a young child, who has never used a computer, to use a Windows PC or Macintosh. They will struggle quite a bit but not because of age, but because today’s UI is not intuitive.

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