The movie Minority Report features one of the most discussed and influential user interfaces ever shown on the silver screen. Using a pair of special gloves, Tom Cruise’s character can navigate and manipulate a vast array of digital images and information using intuitive gestures and movements. As we discussed back in February, that interface is real. The concept was developed for the film by John Underkoffler of MIT’s Media Lab who has gone on to recreate it as a marketable system. Known as ‘g-speak’ the revolutionary interface is under development by Underkoffler’s company Oblong. It was debuted at the TED conference this year and now we finally have access to that video. Watch Underkoffler casually demonstrate what might very well be the future of human computer interactions.
When you use a mouse or arrow keys you are essentially mapping a one dimensional or two dimensional input onto a 2D surface – the computer screen. Yet we humans live in a 3D world. Many of the next generation of human computer interfaces that we’ve reviewed here on the hub have struggled to find an intuitive way of letting humans explore a digital 3D space. From what you can see in the TED presentation video, it’s clear that Underkoffler has found a solution.
Whether it’s the best solution only time can tell. I am excited, and a little skeptical, of Underkoffler’s belief that in five years a g-speak type UI will come packaged with every computer. It’s not that I think he can’t deliver in that time, he probably can. But as cool as this system is it’s not the only one making waves. Besides working in a 3D geometry, humans also like tactile feedback, and g-speak has none. When someone makes an interface that looks this good and feels even better…then I’ll be certain it will be a success. Until then, g-speak is just one of the more amazing, and promising, or a wide field of contenders. The next definitive human computer interface, if there truly will be only one, is still to be determined.
[screen capture and video credits: TED Talks]