Teams of developers are racing to construct the next great human-computer interface, and most already have a product to peddle. Clayton Miller is still working on an idea. His 10/GUI is a group focused on conceptualizing the system that will replace the mouse and keyboard as the most common user interface. Their proposed interface is unlike a tablet computer, or a gesture controlled system. 10/GUI wants a display size touchpad on the tabletop so that all ten fingers can interface with the computer without overlapping the screen. Coupled with this new hardware comes a new software paradigm. 10/GUI avoids a two dimensional (or even three dimensional) windows-based digital space in favor of a single dimension of frames. Sort of like your entire screen becoming a task bar. 10 finger touchpad and linear arrangement of applications makes for a really cool approach to the standard problems of desktop computing. Take a look at the following video and judge for yourself whether this is genius or just madness.
The multi-touch display-size pad and the new digital environment (called Con10uum) are actually fairly close to what we have now. These are small changes from the mouse and the windows desktop. Which is why I find the 10/GUI idea rather captivating. As interesting as many advanced human-computer interfaces may be, there’s yet to be one that stands out as the obvious successor to the current model. 10/GUI and Con10uum are innovative enough to be an improvement but still simple enough to see rapid implementation without significantly retraining users or re-imagining applications (i.e. wordprocessors, web browsers, etc). That is, of course, assuming someone wants to take the time and provide the finances to bring 10/GUI to market.
I think that part of what makes our current mouse and keyboard setup so successful is that they allow a user to be fairly lazy. Interfaces that get your hands off the table such as a touchscreen, air mouse, or gesture controls, will fatigue your arms. 10/GUI gives you a tablet computer’s one to one touch to display ratio while still letting you be lazy. That’s a powerful idea. Not particularly thrilling in the long term, but for the next five to ten years, I could see it being very successful if it ever finds implementation. As with all human computer interfaces, 10/GUI will rise or fall on the interest of consumers. Like it or hate it, but be vocal about it. Companies everywhere are desperately trying to figure out how to create the control system of the future; they’re likely to listen to any idea if it gets enough support.
[screen capture and video credits: 10/GUI]