Using the body in new virtual ways

This is CHI 2010 week, the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Atlanta. Top researchers in human-computer-interaction (HCI) are together April 10-15 for presentations, panels, exhibits, and discussions. Partly because of our intense interest in using new levels of computational power to develop great new Natural User Interfaces (NUI), Microsoft Research is well represented at CHI 2010 as pointed out in an MSR note on the conference:

This year, 38 technical papers submitted by Microsoft Research were accepted by the conference, representing 10 percent of the papers accepted. Three of the Microsoft Research papers, covering vastly different topics, won Best Paper awards, and seven others received Best Paper nominations.

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Slate of the Union Day

Today is “Slate of the Union” day, when the two most charismatic individuals in recent American history go on stage and attempt to reclaim mantles as innovators. I’ll leave aside the fellow with lower poll numbers for now (President Obama). More eyes in the tech world will be watching as Steve Jobs makes his newest product announcement, the Apple tablet/Tabloid/iSlate thing iPad (it’s official).

Back in the late 1980s I worked for the legendary “Mayor of Silicon Valley” Tom McEnery (he was actually the mayor of San Jose), and we did many joint projects with Apple, particularly with CEO John Sculley, a great guy.

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Once you get past Filter Failure

How do intelligence analysts handle the long-discussed problem of information overload? (The same question goes for information workers and government data of any kind.)

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The So-Called Secret Courier Video

What is the “user interface of tomorrow”? In the past I have chronicled some cool Microsoft Research prototypes of flexible touchscreen interfaces – and even touchless interfaces!  And now this month one of my friends in MSR, Mary Czerwinski, has written in Venture Beat that “those types of interfaces could be the tip of the iceberg”:

A whole new set of interfaces are in the works at various stages of research and development… I have colleagues working on tongue-based interaction, bionic contacts lenses, a muscle-computer interface, and brain-computer interaction.” – Mary Czerwinski

Not bad! But working devices along those lines are several years away, so for now we’re stuck with the tablet form-factor as the primary basis for natural input. I’ve used a tablet PC on and off for the past five years, happily. My wife now uses an HP tablet.

So I’ve been eagerly following the blogosphere’s hyperventilation about the much-rumored, still-unseen Apple tablet computer, which has been variously described as being close to launch, far from launch, and non-existent.

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Year of Data brings together Apple iPhone, Microsoft Surface, Google Android

 

Neat video below (Stimulant’s “XRay” project), but first, why I think it’s neat:

Every year is the year of data, I believe.

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A Semantic-Touch-Flexible-Cloud Future Prototype

One of the more popular posts I wrote in 2008 about Microsoft Research prototypes featured the “Research Desktop” project, bringing together semantic analysis with Web 2.0-style user interfaces. MSR is now supplementing those concepts with more natural interfaces and new display and touch technologies.

ces-future-prototypes

Tonight at the Las Vegas 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, Janet Galore of Microsoft’s Strategic Prototyping unit was onstage with Steve Ballmer, showing a conceptual demo of several technologies of the future which could significantly change the way people find, share and use information. Take a look at the video, which shows among other things new touch capabilities, semantic analysis, “Software + Services” integration of device computation with cloud computing, and flexible active displays.

By the way, that last one – flexible displays – was just highlighted by Bob Gourley in his New Year’s “Look Ahead: Some Technology Developments to Expect in 2009.”  I think this video’s example, about six and a half minutes ino the scene, really makes clear the startling promise of new displays.

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Stop being so touchy

Remember Tom Cruise’s virtual 3D in Minority Report? Wouldn’t it be cool if, instead of an iPhone-like touch screen, we could manipulate data and 3D images on screens by simply moving our hands – interacting virtually without touching a keyboard or screen?

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