usable in any place a human can be used


of mice and men

My birthday is coming up Novemeber 14th, *wink* *wink*, and the one gift I've been angling for is a Das Keyboard because I like clicky keyboards. Growing up I had a classic IBM Model-M, the original clicky keyboard. I'm not sure why I like the clicky keyboard, it's mostly in my head I'm sure, I feel more productive if I'm making a tremendous amount of noise I guess... maybe that's why I talk so much.

What it comes down to though is feedback. Computers are these amazingly pliable machines, I can play a game of solitaire, balance my checkbook, and write a blog post all on the same machine. It's one of those amazing things that has sadly become commonplace, so much so that we barely think anything about it anymore. This is sad because it's kind of a big deal, take a modern computer back in time 100 years and watch people flip out.

We often think about the User Interface that we see on the screen, but rarely do we consider the Physical Interface that we have with the computer itself, mainly the keyboard and mouse. There is one company though that continues to push the envelope, Apple. Look at their new Magic Mouse, think that chiclet style keyboards are neat, Apple did it first, multitouch you're welcome. This is not an Apple lovefest (all evidence to the contrary), their products work really nicely but that's not the point, they spur others to innovate as well, that's the important part.

So suddenly there is a resurgence in thinking about how we physically interact with computers, look what Microsoft is doing. There is a cornucopia of rumors flying around about a speculative Apple Tablet. And this means really cool interesting gadgets and ideas are now getting the funding to take them from scribbles on a napkin to sketches on a whiteboard to mockup videos to prototypes and then maybe if they hold out to market.

Then I encountered a video a few weeks ago that was so brilliant, so full of potential, that I just wanted to learn as much as possible about it, 10/GUI. Don't take my word for it, check this thing out.

Pretty neat, huh? There are definitely things some people might not like or want to change, but it is an intriguing idea. With proper funding and research it could turn into something awesome. The problem is that you still have to transition between a 10/GUI touch surface and a keyboard, not a huge deal, but once I saw this my mind was set ablaze with visions of a seamless 10/GUI interface. If you don't want to read that whole page, here is the important part.

The described system in the patent application would individually detect all ten fingers and separate palms on a person's hand, giving the ability to type, write, draw and interact with a device large enough to support multiple hands.

Typing is a large part of the lengthy application. The document goes into great detail about how a multi-touch interface could distinguish what keys a set of hands intend to type on the surface. It discusses pressure on the sides or center of individual fingers and palms, and how to interpret those various signals.

The major problem to overcome is feedback, a system that automatically tracks your palms and places the keys under it could allow for touch typing, but as someone who types all day, I don't know if it could work without feedback. This is what they said about the iPhone onscreen soft keyboard, but reports are that people can type anywhere from 40-60 wpm after adjusting.

I'm not sure what the future of the Physical Interface between the user and computer will be, but its definitely an interesting thing to ponder about. Will we have a minority report like 3D interface or a neat 10/GUI pad or the tried and true keyboard and mouse or something that hasn't made it off the scribbled on a napkin phase yet. It sure will be exciting to find out though.

I plan on moving this blog to my own domain over the weekend, but never fear I will keep everyone informed on the move and where you can always get your daily dose of my crazyness

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