Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The future of user interface

I read that Microsoft's Bill Gates had said that improvements in user interface would be the major future changes in computer technology. See here for instance. I wonder what these would be. Certainly the keyboard and the mouse are hardly natural extensions of the body as noted in the above link. But I don't really care for voice recognition either. Imagine working in a cubicle type environment with everyone all talking at once.
1. I think that touch will be one promising direction - using the hands and fingers instead of the mouse. It may even ameliorate some repetitive strain injuries. I'd be happy to have touch replace the mouse.
2. Many computer programs have adapted to mouse technology using drag and drop interfaces even in programming (i.e. object oriented programming IDEs) so that this is still easily adaptable to touch.
3. Unfortunately, the advent of the computer has displaced writing so much so that I wonder if I've forgotten how to write. Certainly, I tire a lot easier now when writing than when typing so the natural extension to this would be voice although I have my doubts about how far this technology can go.
4. How would writing code be amenable to voice technology for instance.

Incidentally, Vernor Vinge describes one possible interface: a wearable interface he called Epiphany in his book Rainbows End. Unfortunately, most of the description of how the user managed to get it to work was over my head.

1 comment:

erich said...

Vernor did leave the details out, regarding how the Epiphany Suit works, but that leaves it to our imagination. And speaking of which, I've got some ideas about how to implement the first generation of the suit...