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Ideas For the Next Generation In Human-Computer Interfaces

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the literally-exploding dept.

Input Devices 170

Singularity Hub writes "For decades our options for interacting with the digital world have been limited to keyboards, mice, and joysticks. Now with a new generation of exciting new interfaces in the pipeline our interaction with the digital world will be forever changed. Singularity Hub looks at some amazing demonstrations, mostly videos, that showcase new ways of interacting with the digital world." Along similar lines, reader shakuni points out a facial expression-driven user interface reported on News.com for operating, say, an iPhone, explaining "This device is tiny and fits into the ear and measures movements inside the ear due to changes in facial expression and then uses that as input triggers. So [tongue out] starts or stops your iPod Touch; [Wink] rewinds to the last song; and [smile] replays the same song."

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i have an idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27113593)

you fags can eat out my asshole.

Ah-Choo! (4, Funny)

Something Witty Here (906670) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113617)

And when you sneeze, it reboots!

Re:Ah-Choo! (3, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113873)

This facial expression control system sounds like a great way to make speech recocognition seem unambiguous and reliable by comparison.

Re:Ah-Choo! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27114647)

I see the good intentions here, but this is overall a bad idea. What would a sneeze do? God forbid you try to rock out with the hiccups or are congested with allergies. Its good have advancement but they really missed the point as far as practicality as far as I am concerned.

Re:Ah-Choo! (5, Insightful)

ChangelingJane (1042436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114853)

For ordinary everyday users, this is very impractical and even silly. But for quadriplegics, it could be something else entirely.

voice control (5, Insightful)

Keruo (771880) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113623)

When windows 95 arrived, I played around with its voice recognition.
I wasnt quite impressed with it, since the only command I got working properly was "fuck" which caused the machine to reboot.

Although voice control has interesting potential, its not optimal for most situations. (think open cubicle office)

Re:voice control (1)

sam0737 (648914) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113813)

If the voice recognition works without the voice...

I think there was an experiment about that? Like probing the nerve that control the vocal cord, and the last time I read is it could recognize 4-5 distinct states after training. Yes, it's even so far from today's voice recognition, but only by then I will consider actively using it. Otherwise I think I will lost my voice in a few days, not to mention any privacy issue it associates.

Re:voice control (3, Insightful)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113831)

Well yeah, but think about it: your brain can differentiante between your boss calling you a useless waste of oxygen from inside his office and the giggles from your coworkers on the outside.

The aim for technology is, of course, that a microphone can do the same.

And it makes sense that Windows would understand "Fuck", being the word that it hears the most.

Re:voice control (3, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114119)

I don't think that's the only hurdle to overcome. In a lot of cases, I just don't think voice control is very useful beyond a novelty. I played with it a number of years ago. After a bit of training, it was recognizing my commands pretty well. Thing is, it was tedious as hell to do things with voice control. I spent 10x longer doing things simply for the novelty to doing it using voice commands.

Seriously: for people who have ever done tech support this should be obvious: even with a human - whose reasoning skills are superior to the best voice recognition system out there, if I am standing there telling them what to do in order to perform an action on the computer, it takes all of 1 minutes before I'm asking them "You know, how about let me sit there for a second and I'll take care of it." (a nicer version of the "MOVE!" part from Jimmy Fallon's Nick Burns - The Company Computer Guy skit from SNL). Most of us can simply do things much faster with our hands than we can explain them.

Now, if we could truly step into the realm of Star Trek and have virtual AI running the computer - then it might have some application (ie, "Computer - pull up a list of hotels in Miami on Labor Day weekend"). Otherwise, simply as a replacement input device, no matter how good it gets at recognizing commands I just don't see the use.

Re:voice control (4, Interesting)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114385)

I don't think that's the only hurdle to overcome. In a lot of cases, I just don't think voice control is very useful beyond a novelty. I played with it a number of years ago. After a bit of training, it was recognizing my commands pretty well. Thing is, it was tedious as hell to do things with voice control. I spent 10x longer doing things simply for the novelty to doing it using voice commands.

I feel the same way about it. But my brother swears by it... he can have his hands full of scientific equipment and still issue commands to his computer which is interfacing with the tools he's using.

I could see this sort of tech being really useful for those who wish to access reference materials while their hands are full too... be it doctors who have their hands covered in blood switching to a different monitor or mechanics who have their hands covered in grease switching to a different schematic.

Personally, some days I'd give my left nut for a good heads up display and a glove with an integrated chording keyboard and touch pad. If I could do my work lying on my back instead of sitting in this chair, I probably wouldn't have to go to the chiropractor.

Re:voice control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27113881)

yeah the vice control on Windows95 was pretty poor. A big mistake, I believe. If they had gotten that right, the world would have been theirs for the picking.

Oooops - you said 'voice control' - my bad.

Re:voice control (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114199)

I blamed Win95's poor vice control for making me smoke, but when I talked to lawyers about a class action suit, they said I was just blowing smoke up their ass.

Re:voice control (2, Funny)

jeffehobbs (419930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113925)

Back when Mac OS 9 had kind-of-sort-of voice control, you could launch programs by putting them in a specific folder. I made an alias for "Unreal" -- which took up 190 MB of RAM and took about 3 minutes to load on my PM 7500. Whenever someone would come over my dorm room to use my computer, I made a point of mentioning very loudly how something was "UNREAL!" -- and then they got to sit there while 'Unreal' loaded, very, very slowly.

Re:voice control (4, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113951)

I wasnt quite impressed with it, since the only command I got working properly was "fuck" which caused the machine to reboot.

Are you sure you have the causation straight on that one? When I used Windows 95, it was the other way around.

Re:voice control (2, Insightful)

DrBuzzo (913503) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114549)

Current generations of voice control are quite good and usable. It always seemed that voice control was central to human interface with computers in scifi visions of the future. Star trek and such, nobody ever interacts with the computers aside from asking them to do something. Other visions of the future always had voice control to turn up or down the temperature of a room and do other such things.

That kind of thing is now entirely doable and entirely affordable with only nominal hardware. The accuracy is reasonably good. Yet it has never really taken off except in nitch markets. It works great for things like getting your cell phone to dial someone without having to look down and find the right buttons, but it's no threat to the mouse and keyboard.

It has it's place for certain things, but it's not really that useful except as a novelty.

Re:voice control (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114879)

Yet it has never really taken off except in nitch markets.

The company I work for sells an air traffic control simulator. Voice recognition is used by the component which simulates aircraft so you can give them voice commands.

A conventional flight sim could work in a similar way to send voice messages to ATC.

My wife uses a gnome desktop for her business. Because she uses so many different functions her UI is quite cluttered. I had a look in synaptic and found gnome-voice-control so I will give it a go.

Re:voice control (2, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 5 years ago | (#27115069)

which caused the machine to reboot.

But with Windows 95, what didn't? ;)

I think I could have duplicated that effect without even a microphone. (Though whether the "fuck" would be the cause or effect of the reboot is another matter.)

Re:voice control (2, Insightful)

high_rolla (1068540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27115261)

Voice control has some potential but I think it is one of those technologies that should be a complement to existing input mechanisms (ie keyboard and mouse).

eg. When doing my normal work I want to use keyboard and mouse as it is more efficient and flexible. Then the phone rings, I pick it up and shortly into the conversation I realise that this is going to be a longer conversation. At which point I just say "computer, save document" rather than having to go back to the keyboard and mouse to do so.

Missing options (5, Funny)

Bovius (1243040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113633)

Seems like there are some other practical interface options for the iPod.

* Snoring: stop playing music
* Gagging: remove song from playlist
* Startled jump, clenched jaw and frantic grasping at earbuds: reduce volume

Re:Missing options (1)

Cally (10873) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113781)

Semaphore flags. ("There's a future for you in the semaphore trade; come up to town.")

Re:Missing options (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114299)

How do you know you're free?

Re:Missing options (1)

high_rolla (1068540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27115273)

The true innovation will come when this technology is applied to pron.

Facial-expression driven interface? (4, Insightful)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113639)

I can see useful applications for this, but I hope there is a switch I have to depress while I make the gesture, plus a "hold" switch so I can lock gestures on or off at all times. For example, if I catch my wife cheating and I look stunned, I don't want that to accidentally to push the "panic" button on my car alarm so my nosy neighbor starts poking around during the ensuing drama. That would certainly be a small and silly example of this technology making life more difficult instead of better.

...not that I'd ever be able to get a wife (let alone a girlfriend), but at least I made a good car analogy ;-)

Re:Facial-expression driven interface? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113737)

Well, if you do get a wife, let me know, because if you consider finding her sleeping around to be a small and silly example, I am definitely going to want to 'meet' her. ;)

Re:Facial-expression driven interface? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27113945)

I'm pretty sure you meant, "meat her."

Re:Facial-expression driven interface? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27113749)

A facial expression driven interface is an absurd idea for the vast majority of users. People's hands are wired to move and manipulate objects. That is why our hands are so effective as "human output devices". Our facial expressions are tied to our emotions. Even if we can get around the weirdness of detaching smiles from happiness and winks from flirtation and so on, there's still the problem that doing that kind of stuff physically feels awkward if it has no emotional content behind it.

Re:Facial-expression driven interface? (1)

ChangelingJane (1042436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114897)

that kind of stuff physically feels awkward if it has no emotional content behind it.

So this is the perfect interface for psychopaths and lawyers.

Re:Facial-expression driven interface? (1)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113865)

But wouldn't it be great if you caught your wife cheating on you and your sound system started playing O Fortuna?!

I can't wait to get a wife and catch her cheating on me!

On useful applications... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27113957)

Not (just) to be a reactionary arse, but what non-recreational applications are there for this sort of technology? How are these doohickeys going to make a white collar (or, heck, a blue collar) workday easier and more productive? Again, I'm NOT trying to be snide here. My work day consists of writing reports, filling out paperwork, participating in meetings, and conducting the occasional negotiation. None of the devices shown appear to do anything I couldn't do with a cell phone/laptop, a flash drive, and some presentation hardware that's already deployed in most businesses (read: a frickin' projector).

So, would you kindly enlighten this crusty old fart on how these are going to make my research proceed faster, my presentations come across more clearly, or my workday more productive? After all, even if I AM an arse, I do strive to be a productive one.

Re:Facial-expression driven interface? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27114361)

Don't worry, the stunned look is for switching to a safe browser window when you are surfing porn. A potential social life saver!

Off course it won't work properly, so you will probably end up frantically looking for your car keys while your computer screen exposes your dirtiest fantasies for everyone to see.

Re:Facial-expression driven interface? (1)

slashdotmsiriv (922939) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114375)

"...not that I'd ever be able to get a wife (let alone a girlfriend), but at least I made a good car analogy ;-)"

With your sense of humor, it would be a pity if you don't :)

Apple are WAY ahead (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27113647)

All their products are suitable for anal insertion right out of the box.

Re:Apple are WAY ahead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27113819)

You're goatse aren't you. You made that picture after inserion of a mac, didn't you.

I can just see it now .. (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113649)

"This device is tiny and fits into the ear and measures movements inside the ear due to changes in facial expression and then uses that as input triggers. So [tongue out] starts or stops your iPod Touch; [Wink] rewinds to the last song; and [smile] replays the same song."

Sneeze a few times, and you just sent an email to your boss calling him a fat ignorant pig

Get the hiccups, and your car repeated accelerates and brakes, causing multiple accidents..

And the world ends when the president, grimacing while trying to keep from passing gas at a public function, activates the nuclear launch codes.

This all makes me think of (1)

Valcrus (1242564) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113667)

changing my tv with hand motion. Right now this would never work think of all the uncontrolled facial expressions people use all the time. As for voice commands that someone else mentioned. I used to like them assuming you could record the commands and train the system. Otherwise the computer will pick anything that has about the same length as the same command. That and my wife thought I was crazy playing a game and yelling commands at my computer.

Re:This all makes me think of (1)

Logic Worshiper (1480539) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113861)

We've had voice control technology for a long time. The problem with it now is exactly what you mention. It needs major improvement.

Re:This all makes me think of (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113883)

I have toyed with voice commands, some. And I did not like it. Still don't.
If it's not something I can do silently, while talking to someone and without looking rediculous, I'm not using it.

Now, a lighter version of those VR gloves that were touted as the future of human-computer interaction, where there would be a few sensors near my fingertips, I could live with. Even typing would work, though it would look silly.
I do not want to keep turning this wink/smile/nod "feature" on and off all the time. If I hear a song I like, I will smile; I don't want it to rewind just because I like it. If I listen to music while walking, and I run into someone I know, I may smile; this does not mean I wanted the bloody song to rewind. And I don't want to stick my tongue out to turn off my iPod just so I can smile at someone.

If my hands cannot do that, and both are still attached, then it is too complicated anyway. Leave my face alone. Don't read it, don't expect input from it. If and when I want to interact with a device, I will use my hands. You know those appendages with opposable thumbs that are usually used for tool manipulation? (Appendages, not thumbs alone.) Yeah, them. If I need a tool, I'll use them.
My facial expressions are for other people to see and react to, should they care to do so.

However, this technology may prove to work well for quadriplegic people or Stephen Hawking. OK, not Stephen Hawking. So it's even less useful than it seemed to be.

Re:This all makes me think of (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114405)

You know those appendages with opposable thumbs that are usually used for tool manipulation?

... so you use your "appendages with opposable thumbs" to "manipulate" your "tool."

Let me guess - you're posting this on slashdot because you've nick-named your "tool" as "CowboyNeal".

Re:This all makes me think of (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114737)

Wow. From human-computer interaction to verbing my noun in two posts.
Whatever happened to those 5.25" drives that were to be used for cyber sex? You should have mentioned them as well.

Still, not a very poor troll. I'll give it a 3 out of 5.

Re:This all makes me think of (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114207)

"UP. UP. UP. UP. DOWN." is a nightmare. "Play the most recent Colbert." is a dream.

Much of the problem stems from trying to bolt a new control system onto the old interface, rather than creating a new interface that works well with the new control. Facial gestures for control sounds dumb, but I wouldn't mind a television that turned down the volume if I stopped paying attention.

Re:This all makes me think of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27114467)

Changing your TV with hand motion? That's what your remote control is for! If you're referring to the TV channel and not the display (box) itself, that is.

Facial Expressions? (5, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113669)

I still think that people using BlueTooth headsets look like they're off their meds, walking down the street, talking to themselves. This'll open up whole new Vistas of crazy-looking people. Is he having a seizure or just skipping through his iPod's playlist?

Re:Facial Expressions? (-1, Flamebait)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113743)

The people walking down the street talking via bluetooth seem odd to you because they prefer the conversation with a distant person to dealing with you. If your need for attention weren't so acute this wouldn't bother you at all.

A connected world is the cure for the provincialism and prejudice of place. Global personal communications have been a goal of and a prerequisite for peaceful co-existence of differing cultures since the Pleistocene, and when we have nearly achieved it, we get sniping from the perpetually miffed. It hardly seems fair.

The proposed solution in TFA is just one brief pit stop on the road to cerebral control of devices. Calm down. Whether or not it is clear to your the universe is unfolding as it should.

Re:Facial Expressions? (2, Informative)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113771)

The people walking down the street talking via bluetooth seem odd to you because they prefer the conversation with a distant person to dealing with you. If your need for attention weren't so acute this wouldn't bother you at all.

That is quite an assumption.

Perhaps it is because you can't tell if they are talking or a person or to themselves unless you see the headset. You know, crazy people talk to themselves. And other people tend to stay away from them, since they are relatively unpredictable.

Re:Facial Expressions? (2, Informative)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113939)

Recently I noticed just how much the Bluetooth headset has changed the way we perceive people.
I rode a tram, and heard a girl near me giggle. She was looking outside, speaking softly, giggling from time to time. Naturally, I'd assumed she was talking to someone via Bluetooth.
Boy, was I wrong. I don't know what was making her giggle, and who she was talking to, but there was no mobile phone or any of its possible accessories in sight.

The mere fact her being crazy was not the first thing that crossed my mind shows how far we've gone so far; I'm not sure I'd like going any further in that direction.

Re:Facial Expressions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27114517)

I subvocalize all the time, as you've probably noticed. What's so strange about it?

Re:Facial Expressions? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114575)

Recently I noticed just how much the Bluetooth headset has changed the way we perceive people. I rode a tram, and heard a girl near me giggle. She was looking outside, speaking softly, giggling from time to time. Naturally, I'd assumed she was talking to someone via Bluetooth. Boy, was I wrong. I don't know what was making her giggle, and who she was talking to, but there was no mobile phone or any of its possible accessories in sight.

Let's see ... you didn't see a phone. Could it have been in her purse? School bag? Pocket?

You can also get a bluetooth earbud that's so small that a bit of hair, or the edge of a hat, will hide it.

You don't even need to be within 30 feet for it to work - I've had plenty of conversations where I've gone from room to room w/o my cell, or outside, without dropping the conversation (don't try this with a bargain-basement bluetooth). I've even left my cell in the car, gone to the ATM, and back w/o dropping the call - a good 50 feet or more. She may even have dropped her phone and not even realized it, and only found out when she gets off the tram. Or hse's a hackeer using bluetooth snarfing [trifinite.org] and eavesdropping on YOUR phone calls.

Re:Facial Expressions? (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114713)

In Croatia, people who ride trams usually do not even use Bluetooth earphones. The earbuds you mention would have been extremely improbable even if I had not seen her ears. And her hands were empty, too.

I appreciate the what-ifs, but I have considered them all, and tried to verify against them. I had to default to her being a bit wacky.
The kinds we get in our trams, a giggler is just fine and dandy.

Re:Facial Expressions? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114437)

The people walking down the street talking via bluetooth seem odd to you because they prefer the conversation with a distant person to dealing with you. If your need for attention weren't so acute this wouldn't bother you at all.

That is quite an assumption.

Perhaps it is because you can't tell if they are talking or a person or to themselves unless you see the headset. You know, crazy people talk to themselves. And other people tend to stay away from them, since they are relatively unpredictable.

Sorry to disappoint you, but that was me, and I was just pretending to talk to someone on my bluetooth so I could avoid talking to you.

Re:Facial Expressions? (3, Interesting)

kylemonger (686302) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113821)

The people walking down the street talking via bluetooth seem odd to you because they prefer the conversation with a distant person to dealing with you. If your need for attention weren't so acute this wouldn't bother you at all.

No, they look odd because they look like they are talking to themselves or an invisible friend. This "poke your tongue out" iPod interface would be even worse. Ever seen tardive dyskinesia [youtube.com] ? That's what people are going to look like trying to select the right playlist on their iPods.

Facial Repetitive Strain Injury . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113961)

. . . will probably make folks look worse than a botched Botox job. I guess the device will come with a warning and legal disclaimer: "If you can no longer hold your eyelid open, discontinue the winking process."

Re:Facial Expressions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27113995)

I still think that people using BlueTooth headsets look like they're off their meds, walking down the street, talking to themselves.

Word to the wise: don't ever hold something larger than a mobile phone in the same hand as your mobile phone while you are talking into it. To most people, it will look like you are talking into your sandwich.

Re:Facial Expressions? (1)

baKanale (830108) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114115)

You know there's a problem when you see crazy people talking to themselves and it takes you a minute to realize they're NOT talking on a BlueTooth headset.

Re:Facial Expressions? (0, Troll)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114175)

The talkers (crazy or bluetooth) do not present a risk to you.

Why so paranoid? If you leave BOTH groups alone there is not a problem.

Re:Facial Expressions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27114415)

The talkers (crazy or bluetooth) do not present a risk to you.

No risk? Did you hear about this [www.cbc.ca] bus trip? Not that this kind of thing happens every day here, but people who have conversations with themselves do tend to behave unpredictably, usually harmlessly. I'm all for sensitivity towards those who are ill, but if someone is jabbering away to themselves, I personally won't turn my back on them.

Re:Facial Expressions? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114715)

No, people who have conversations with themselves do not "tend to behave unpredictably".

I cry foul for your dredging up the most sensational episode you can find as justification for fearing any slightly different behavior. Especially when there was no indication of the behavior in question:

Quote: "I never took the time to know him, but he seemed to be OK, right, just a kid," said Olmstead, a Nova Scotia man who had been taking the bus from Alberta to Montreal."

I cry GREATER Foul for your posting a link that that immediately triggered my virus scanner.

Re:Facial Expressions? (1)

baKanale (830108) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114595)

I was pointing out that when cellphones and wireless headsets first came out people thought anyone using them were crazy people talking to themselves. It's funny that now, with the prevalence of these technologies, sometimes a crazy people talking to themselves gets mistaken for a person on a cell phone.

Re:Facial Expressions? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114681)

I understood that. No need to explain.

The new reality is better for everybody. It provides a modicum of dignity for the disturbed, or the merely "different", and reduces the irrational fears of everyone else.

Re:Facial Expressions? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 5 years ago | (#27115043)

No kidding. I saw one at the train station in Frankfurt last week. At that time of night, it's fairly common to see drunk people chattering more or less aimlessly to themselves or to anyone who will listen, so he wasn't out of place. But what confused me was how well-dressed the guy was. Business suit, tie, expensive shoes...

Then I realized he was holding a telephone conference. :P

No... not going to work (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113691)

There is a simple reason for that, it requires learning.

I've given this some thought, and there are several basic problems that need to be overcome with the current computer/human interface:

1 - It is not intuitive, no matter how much we as a society now accept as normal for computers

2 - computers require a special lexicon to communicate with.

3 - computers do not fix themselves: if you have a maid/servant it's ok if they are ill for a couple of days, but if you have to be the doctor too, it doesn't work well. Yes, there are computer 'doctors' but they are not able to help you when program xyz doesn't run right etc.

Anything that only propagates the current interfaces issues to a new set of actions by the user will fail ultimately.

The user interface needs to be intuitive and uncomplicated. It needs to use 'normal' methods of interfacing with humans. Speech, vision, touch... the popularity of the iPod touch screen proves this to be true.

The complexities of a typical computer OS and configuration is beyond the understanding of most end users. When something goes wrong, there is operator overload. This must be fixed to make any significant headway on the other problems. Look at scifi movies to understand more of what I'm saying.

If I had a set of cameras on my monitor, the computer could watch the motion of my hands and predict/posit that motion on the screen. If the computer understood what I was saying and talking about [thestandard.com] I would not need to type so much, or even sit at the keyboard.

If the computer itself presented information in a 3D world to the user, it would be intuitive to understand what the user needs to do. To get an idea of what I mean, think of something like SecondLife as the interface on your screen, or the window manager. On the screen is a user customized 'world' that contains 3D icons as part of it's makeup. So the user moves their avatar to their 'office' and the objects there represent those functions that the user associates with the 'office'. A trip to the 3D kitchen and touch the cook book object to open a link to recipes, both saved and on the Internet etc.

With voice recognition, simply calling to the computer and asking what goes into a dirty martini would get a voice answer, as if the user asked their SO from another room.

When the user wants to send an email, they simply dictate it to the computer, like leaving a voice message on the recipient's phone service.

These are the things that have to happen to make computers more 'user friendly'. Odd tricks like wiggling your ears won't fix it.

Re:No... not going to work (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113765)

> if you have a maid/servant it's ok if they are ill for a couple of days,

Good example! That ought to represent about .000002% of all slashdotters.

Re:No... not going to work (1)

bami (1376931) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113869)

> f the computer itself presented information in a 3D world to the user, it would be intuitive to understand what the user needs to do. To get an idea of what I mean, think of something like SecondLife as the interface on your screen, or the window manager. On the screen is a user customized 'world' that contains 3D icons as part of it's makeup. So the user moves their avatar to their 'office' and the objects there represent those functions that the user associates with the 'office'. A trip to the 3D kitchen and touch the cook book object to open a link to recipes, both saved and on the Internet etc.

That sounds an awful lot like Microsoft Bob to me. We all know how that ended up...

Make computers into humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27113741)

The best human-computer interface would be having no interface at all. Voice and facial expression driven would be the next best interface where the computer can do anything by just sitting there and telling the computer what to do. The computer would either call you on the phone, text you and you would be able to interact with it like talking to another person. By making the computer a person, it would make communicating with computers natural and simple for the user. This is when the mouse and keyboard would become obsolete. But that is definitely not going to happen anytime soon

Re:Make computers into humans (1)

JoshHeitzman (1122379) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113857)

Voice isn't always a feasible interface, such as when one is in a meeting or when one is using the computer while watching TV that others are also watching.

Re:Make computers into humans (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113909)

Do you really want to talk to a computer the way you would talk to a person?

While there may be some potential in technologies like Ubiquity, I still prefer simple Unix-style commands for stuff I do often. And which i do not have to say out loud.

The computer already occupies my eyes. Better interaction means occupying less, not more of my resources.

Re:Make computers into humans (1)

agnosticnixie (1481609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114991)

That will of course work fine when you have a cold, if you're deaf, have speech impediments, communication difficulties, etc... The keyboard will only become obsolete when something as accessible can replace it, ditto for the mouse. I'm pretty sure we will just multiply the interfaces actually.

In the future (4, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113745)

We'll all have to sit infuriatingly still if we want to listen to some music.

Skynet is coming... (1)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113809)

They became aware of each other. It's only a matter of time before they become aware of themselves!

iPod Touch? (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113815)

So [tongue out] starts or stops your iPod Touch

Wouldn't that be an iPod lick?

It would also make listening to KISS and singing along as Gene pretty much impossible.

Re:iPod Touch? (3, Funny)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114413)

It would also make listening to KISS and singing along as Gene pretty much impossible.

Yes, but there are disadvantages to the technology too.

Possible application for this tech (1)

Saberwind (50430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113847)

"This device is tiny and fits into the ear and measures movements inside the ear due to changes in facial expression and then uses that as input triggers.

I don't advocate gambling, but a device disguised as a pair of hearing aids that incremented a count with a left eye blink and decremented a count with a right eye blink could be used for card counting.

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27113855)

...do they have open-source Linux drivers!?

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27114145)

Memes. You are doing it wrong.

Thought patterns (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113879)

Control via thought patterns.

They already have animals controlling robot arms with their thoughts.

When you think of say a "pink fried tapir" it will produce a distinct thought pattern.

1) Get a "super PDA" sort of stuff hooked up to look for your thought patterns.
2) Think up a really unique thought pattern to get the computer to "start listening"
3) Think up a really unique thought pattern to get the computer to "stop listening"
4) Think up various distinct thought patterns and link them with various PDA actions, alphabets, numerals or even whole common words (a whole word is a different pattern from its constituent letters).

Of course it takes a bit of practice to make sure you "turn it on/off" when you should.

But after that, you can do stuff via the computer - like send messages to people, remotely control devices, all just by thinking about it.

You can also get the computer to take/receive a picture/video/audioclip/file, and then associate that object with a thought pattern, so that the next time you think:

<PatternToTriggerRecallProcess>,<PatternAssociatedWithObject>

The PDA then retrieves that object for you.

Who the fuck is in charge of these? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27113885)

Facial expressions?
All this interface bullshit is stupid. I want buttons, not some magical psychic thing that's going to be the new voice recognition and fuck up every time I use it while I smile like a douche trying to make it work.

I want my fucking buttons, because they are RELIABLE, and they always work.

Prediction: in 10 years I'll still be using hjkl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27113941)

.. to navigate {}-grouped source code from my cubicle.

Tobii (1)

omuls are tasty (1321759) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113953)

Just got back from CeBIT, tried out an eye tracking device made by Tobii [tobii.com] . I guess the technology has been around for a while now (the girl at the stand said they've been in business since 2003 I think) but I've never had a chance to try it out myself. Very, very impressive.

Basically you control the mouse pointer with just your eyes. The calibration is dead simple, you just need to look at two corners of your screen and that's it. The accuracy of the device amazed me completely. The sentiment is perhaps best conveyed by my a comment made by a colleague of mine after trying out the device: "dude, let's go to a strip bar. We've just seen a computer you can control with your eyes. What else could impress us... but tits?"

Their main use cases so far are disabled persons, but it's also used by e.g. marketing people to check which parts of the add your eyes focus on mostly etc.

Gah! Winking (1)

Suisho (1423259) | more than 5 years ago | (#27113999)

I have a terrible time trying to wink -- its going to be impossible for me to go back to the last song.
I think with facial gestures, while cool- there are so many unconscious movements people make in a day or time... you'd constantly be looking for the manual hold button.
A scenario: Say I'm listening to music and jogging down the street. A 3 year old comes up, and isn't a brat, and I smile.
Crap, song repeat.
So I wink, and well because I am an awful winker, I'd make all kinds of scary facial gestures that would scare any good three year old.
So said three year old gets incredibly terrified, and starts screaming with this high pitch - mommy thats a child molester scream- I wince.

God knows what that would do to my ipod.

So, I'll stick with my buttons for now.

There are 3 main ways of writing known to man (1)

Logic Worshiper (1480539) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114007)

Pen, printing press, and keyboard. I don't think we're about to come up with a new way any time soon.

Speech to text is still evolving but has major problems, some inherent (such as the fact that others have to listen to what you're saying to your computer). Touch screens are the best bet for new improved user interfaces. The only new kind of interface that will really revolutionize computers will be a neural interface, and we're years (maybe decades) away from that, not to mention the moral issues should we get it to work.

Waste of effort (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114019)

Awful idea. It is tiring enough to have to make facial expressions to interact with people. When I interface with my computer I don't want to waste that effort.

Identifying the Crazy People... (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114029)

And it gets ever harder to tell people who are crazy from those who are using modern technology...

Talking to themself? They might be crazy... or maybe they have a really well-hidden cellphone. Weird facial expressions that don't appear to relate to the environment? Crazy... or thinking about philosophy, or one of these.

Now we need to get close enough to see if they smell funny ... and some geeks smell funny anyhow. :(

Re:Identifying the Crazy People... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114325)

Or just don't worry about obviously crazy people (unless they are coming at you with a knife or something). For the most part, the quietly crazy are much more dangerous.

For me it is really simple... (3, Interesting)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114085)

Everyone is close but just missing the boat in my opinion. Touch is the way to go but NOT directly on the display screen. A second screen (similar to the dual screened OLPC concept, or a Nintendo DS) that can be customized by each app or else function as a standard pointer/multi-touch input. It has to be essentially a full-on touchscreen display with full color and solid refresh rate.

This would spur all kinds of new interactions, games, and input.

Also... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27114095)

Look away from the computer, and it randomly adds phrases and unnecessary; punctuation to, your writing. Death to humans. When you least expect it.

That'd be a great feature. I think.

Blue sky (3, Insightful)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114183)

While it's great that all this research into potential future interfaces is being done, a lot of them are terribly impractical. I just wish we could get the simple things right with our present day interfaces.

How about a jog wheel / thumb wheel that actually allowed different speeds of movement (i.e. true analog) instead of being just a disguised rocker switch? How about a mouse wheel that didn't force me to move slowly through documents a line at a time, but instead had the same capability for fast and slow movement as the mouse sensor itself?

These are things that would actually be useful now, and are simple to implement with current technology. Perhaps companies could get these right today, in addition to investing in all this blue sky research.

Bah, real nerds directly interface their brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27114429)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnWSah4RD2E

Amazing what research is done in this field

"Decades"? Both of them? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27114457)

And no mention of graphics tablets, which have been available from retailers as long as the mouse. I admit these weren't too popular until the Wacom units were combined with Photoshop in the 90s, but people did buy and try the Koala pads. MIDI has been a significant input device group too. Touchpads are also left out. Stylus interfaces like Newton and Palm... geeze, the list goes on.

Singularity Hub doesn't sound like much of an authority. Thanks for the heads-up Timothy, but a self-submitted shallow adver-blog like that is what makes for accusations of slashvertisement. Better to have specific interface news posts run on, well, Slashdot.

(No mention of the Powerglove? I mean where's the love?)

Steam Punk Interface (4, Funny)

stoicio (710327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114493)

I prefer tried and true ergonomic interfaces. For this reason I suggest
levers and foot pedals. All lever interfaces should have a grip lock
to keep them from moving by themselves.

There should also be two large dials to allow for precision X/Y
axis movement of the cursor.

Random numbers should be generated with a large wheel that has a rubber
stop and pins. Simply spin the big wheel for a random number.

There should be cranks on the side and top of the monitor to allow
the view to be scrolled.

Easter eggs (1)

jonathanhowell (673180) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114513)

smile-left wink-left wink-left wink-yawn-right wink-smile-frown-slap forehead

opens root console access.

Augmented Reality anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27114679)

The future of human machine interaction in my opinion will be augmented or possibly even mediated reality. There have been some amazing advancements in the field.

May Douglas Adams Rest in Piece (1)

Useful Wheat (1488675) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114685)

I cannot be the only person to have ever read the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. They have clearly stolen Zaphod's stereo. The point being he has to sit completely and totally still in order to listen to any kind of music, because even the slightest gesture will change the challenge/volume/etc.

Re:May Douglas Adams Rest in Piece (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27114877)

Yes, you are the only person on this website to have ever read that book.

Why Go Backwards? (3, Interesting)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114703)

Disclaimer: I am a UI designer, and it's been the way I've earned my living for the past eight years.

All the "revolutionary" UIs that we've seen like Siftables and perceptive pixels appear to make a major assumption that I don't accept: that dispensing with the virtualisation of data and our interaction with it is automatically good.

Bringing data and its manipulation "into our world" (as the Siftables guy puts it) seems to me to be a completely retrograde step. One of the reasons why we have computers in the first place is because our world and our physiology is in fact VERY BAD at manipulating large numbers of objects, or pouring paint from one place to another to create the right colour. Keyboards and mice, command lines and pipes, even folders and sub-folders (maybe), are several orders of magnitude better and more flexible at controlling the entropy that we need to control in order to get stuff done. We spent the last 10,000 years working that out - why the hell are we trying to re-discover our inefficiencies?

I suspect the reason for this is because designing improvements to current UI is in fact very, very hard indeed. Of course, there is another reason: self-promotion by academics hoping to be given jobs heading up large corporate R&D departments for ten times their MIT salaries. But I'll let that pass.

Basically, anyone who things humans have a future in significant problem-solving through the manipulation of real-world objects either doesn't understand the past, or is so used to the efficiencies that current human-computer UI models bring that they have ceased to understand them. The key to this understanding is an extreme abstraction of the real world, not its re-creation.

3D holographic glass panel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27114805)

One of the things I would personally love to see is a true 3d holographic panel, which we should be able to produce with existing technologies:

Parts required:
Low E glass panel
3 frequency pulsed laser comb
Beam Splitter
reasonably large DLP micromirror array.
2 IR LEDs
1 IR camera

Background: Traditional film holography uses a single frequency laser source which is split using a beam splitter. One beam is then used to scan a physical object, and the other side is used to "Interfere" with the reflected light from the scanned object. The diffused light from this interference is then stored on the holographic film.

Scope: The 3D holographic glass panel replaces the "Scanned object" with the DLP micromirror array, which then selectively diffracts the laser light at specific frequencies and orientations to produce a virtual 3d object's refraction pattern. The pulsed comb laser contains 3 discrete energy wavelengths: Red, Green, and Blue, rather than just the monochromatic laser light used in traditional film holography.

Instead of projecting the produced interference into a photosensitive film, the image is projected into the edge of the glass panel, where only the interference light can escape through the top surface. (high intensity laser light remains trapped inside the glass)

Adding IR LEDs and an IR camera behind the panel allows for multitouch scanning of the surface of the device, making it fully interactive.

the most expensive components of such a device are the DLP micromirror array, and the 3 frequency pulsed laser comb; however, the former is available in copious quantities in the consumer market already in the form of DLP projection television sets, and the latter is mass produced for industrial and research purposes, and would likely scale down costs with breaching the consumer market.

I dont care if somebody steals this idea and runs with it, I just want to see one made.

Less Screwing around in demos please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27114965)

Gotta love the multitouch demo. The presenter keeps saying how the interface disappears while all he does is pan and zoom pictures. However, the second he has to chance view mode, in comes a menubar.

For once I would like to see a demo of a new interface being used for a task that has clearly defined goal instead of presenters just playing randomly.

Indeed... (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 5 years ago | (#27114997)

*nod, smile, tongue, wink wink, tongue*

- "Is that guy mentally retarded?"

- "No, he's just operating his iPod. Note the earplugs."

One interaction medium left out (1)

electricprof (1410233) | more than 5 years ago | (#27115019)

Once again I see that the "sphincter mouse" has been left out! Simple, low-tech, low power and providing truly hands-free operation.

I want one thing in an interface (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27115165)

HMD of at least 800x600 with headtracking and a virtual desktop that is, say, 4000x3000. Looking spatially by moving my head is a lot easier than tabbing or switching desktops, and I could retain the spatial-memory of my always open windows.

I've got multiple monitors now, but there is only so far that can go, physically. Sure, I'd lose the peripherial vision of those other screens, but I could have screens all around me instead of just what fits on my desk.

The vuzix vr920 looks tempting, but it is only 640x480 and I'd probably have to make my own drivers for the 3DoF tracker.

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