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Minority Report's Legacy of Terrible Interfaces

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the just-give-me-a-mouse-and-keyboard dept.

GUI 305

jfruh writes "More than a decade ago, the special effects artists working the Steven Spielberg film Minority Report synthesized experimental thinking about GUIs to produce a floating interface that Tom Cruise manipulated with his hands. In 2013, surrounded by iOS and Android and Windows 8 devices, we use stripped down versions of this interface every day — and commercial artist Christian Brown thinks that's a bad thing. Such devices may look cinematic, he argues, but they completely ignore the kinds of haptic and textured feedback that have defined how we interact with devices for centuries." Speaking of Minority Report interfaces — a new armband sensor using a gesture-based control scheme is the latest gadget to invoke references to the movie.

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305 comments

That and... (4, Insightful)

Press2ToContinue (2424598) | about a year ago | (#43019537)

1) Gray text
2) Animations
3) Swiping
4) Hiding interface controls
5) No menus
6) buttons anywhere all over the screen
7) "sexy" interfaces

Re:That and... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43019607)

From TFA: "This isn't to argue that touchscreens are useless. They’re a great way to cheaply interact with a small electronic device—like, say, a phone."

Betamax was better. VHS was cheaper. Better doesn't always win.

Re:That and... (4, Insightful)

shugah (881805) | about a year ago | (#43019655)

While LCD monitor makers are striving to improve contrast ratios and reduce glare – blacker blacks, broader viewing angles and deeper, more vivid colours, futurists envision a world of high glare, transparent monitors where ambient lighting and artifacts on both sides of the glass wash out contrast and colours? Absurd.

Re:That and... (4, Insightful)

green1 (322787) | about a year ago | (#43019839)

how often do you see a cell phone, tablet, or even laptop with a matte screen? They're almost all high glare nightmares.
The makers have ignored the best way of reducing glare because a shiny screen looks better, and therefore sells better, right up until the point where you try to actually use the thing.
The only way around it is to crank up the brightness to try to overcome the glare, kills battery life, but it's worth it for a shiny screen when it's off right????

Re:That and... (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year ago | (#43019931)

I came here to reply to the first truncated line of your comment... but then I was greeted with the second line that said exactly what I intended to say (that's it's marketing designed to sell until the honeymoon is over).

"Crispness" over visibility, huh?

Re:That and... (2)

green1 (322787) | about a year ago | (#43020067)

I don't buy that "crispness" argument for a second. I have 3 matte screens in front of me at home, and the picture is plenty crisp. I can also see what I'm doing even with the lights on.
There is absolutely no excuse for shiny screens. I've never talked to anybody who prefers them, but marketing departments obviously do...

Re:That and... (2)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about a year ago | (#43020285)

I have a shiny CRT screen (glass) and a matte projector screen, both HD, both linked up to the same sources, and I find the projector version much clearer in almost all scenarios. The reflective glass simply is not helpful no matter what they say.

Re:That and... (4, Insightful)

GrahamCox (741991) | about a year ago | (#43020291)

The obvious solution is that we need research into finding a glass-like material that can be switched between shiny ("sales mode") and matte ("use mode'").

Re:That and... (3, Informative)

green1 (322787) | about a year ago | (#43020365)

Or we could save the money on that product which is bound to be a huge cost sink and just use existing matte technologies....

In fact such a technology exists on almost all modern TVs. they have a "store mode" and a "home mode" the difference is the store mode runs at max brightness at all times so as to wash out the glare. Often times the "home mode" isn't even capable of getting to the same brightness because they would never get energy star certification if it did. (have you ever wondered why electronics ask you when you first set them up if you are a store or not?)

Re:That and... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43019707)

Replacing a buttons with simple text on them for cute little icons drives me absolutely insane. It's almost like it's a goal to make the lives of people who have to instruct others on how to use their products harder.

"Click the send button" becomes "Ok, do you see the little box with a picture of an envelope in it with some lines next to it.. in the upper left corner of the screen? You don't. Keep looking"

Cadillac (5, Insightful)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about a year ago | (#43019843)

Which is why I am stunned that Cadillac is using this in a car. In fact, they are bragging that this is better than buttons. Because what we need in our cars is more shit that takes our eyes off the road.

An attorney's wet dream (2)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | about a year ago | (#43020181)

Which is why I am stunned that Cadillac is using this in a car. In fact, they are bragging that this is better than buttons. Because what we need in our cars is more shit that takes our eyes off the road.

We know how this will end. Someone will get killed because a Cadillac driver was trying to do something the REQUIRES his eyes to be looking at the dash. A sharp attorney will realize this is a design flaw. They will find email and disgruntled ex-employees that will show this was known in advance, and ... well, you know the rest.

Re:That and... (3, Insightful)

anakha (88297) | about a year ago | (#43020117)

You can add Google's fscking paper plane icon they use as the send button in their Gmail app to that list. Fsckers.

Re:That and... (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about a year ago | (#43020295)

Agreed completely. I get it when "Settings" gets replaced with a gear icon. That's pretty standard now, and "Settings" is pretty long to put on a button, but on a touch interface I don't get to hover over icons to see what they're called like with a mouse, so a good description or help interface needs to exist.

Re:That and... (4, Interesting)

miknix (1047580) | about a year ago | (#43020185)

I must admit I recently started looking a lot into http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Desktop_Environment [wikipedia.org] . I was super happy with Gnome 2, my productivity was never higher! Then, *bam* Gnome 3 up my throat, I actually tried to use it for a month but it was too painful - it was slow as hell, crashing all the time. Now I'm with KDE 4, it is not as fast as Gnome 2 but, feature-wise it is in a entirely different league. Still, I feel I don't use most of its features..

The other day I needed a fancy way to visualize data in a gdb session - that's when I found ddd. The Data Display Debugger http://www.gnu.org/software/ddd/ [gnu.org] is written in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motif_(widget_toolkit) [wikipedia.org] . I was amazed how responsive and fast the GUI was. I found the GUI very well organized and not confusing at all to use. So I wonder, why are we really moving away from this? Why is everything turning into eye candy bloatware?

Re:That and... (1)

peragrin (659227) | about a year ago | (#43020235)

well lets start with the 16 bit color color palette, hard to read, fonts massive over sized non scaling buttons.

Pretty much the only good things are focus follows mouse, and it is low bandwidth enough to use with x windows straight across the internet.

Actually the only thing I really miss is focus follows mouse. that is handy when working with lots and lots of windows open on multi monitor desktop setups.

Re:That and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43020393)

> Actually the only thing I really miss is focus follows mouse

Every linux desktop environment I've tried supports FFM. Certainly the KDE interface I'm using right now does. Sho how are you missing it?

Hollywood Computers (5, Insightful)

RazorSharp (1418697) | about a year ago | (#43019539)

I never understood why anyone thought that the computer in Minority Report was something worth pursuing. Futuristic computers in Hollywood movies have always been designed to look cinematic with no regard for how they would actually function. Having an intuitive interface isn't important for Hollywood directors, having something that is interesting for the audience and makes it obvious what's going on is.

One common example of this is maps. 3D maps are all the rage in Hollywood movies, even when a simple address would suffice. But an address has no cinematic quality, a 3D map does.

Re:Hollywood Computers (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43019583)

What's wrong with looking cinematic? At least people would think I'm doing something when I'm trolling around Slashdot.

Re:Hollywood Computers (4, Informative)

shugah (881805) | about a year ago | (#43019755)

Oh yeah, and Keanu Reaves (Johnny Mnemonic) did it way before Tom Cruise (Minority Report).

Re:Hollywood Computers (1)

rsborg (111459) | about a year ago | (#43019817)

Oh yeah, and Keanu Reaves (Johnny Mnemonic) did it way before Tom Cruise (Minority Report).

Both Philip K Dick inspired movies, too. Though I do agree that JM did aspire to the abstract interface pattern better than MR. Personally I was reminded of Snow Crash when I saw JM (with Hiro P and the avenues of cyberspace).

Re:Hollywood Computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43020157)

Johnny Mnemonic is William Gibson, dumbshit

Re:Hollywood Computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43020001)

What's wrong with looking cinematic?

No-one said anything about "wrong", the GP just stated facts.

Re:Hollywood Computers (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#43020139)

You end up with Popeye arms only since the muscle is only used for gesticulating at nothing, you don't get the strength to go with.

Re:Hollywood Computers (2)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#43019633)

Its a Unix system [youtube.com] .

So, where's my 3D file manager?

Re:Hollywood Computers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43019795)

LOL

Here, FSV [sourceforge.net] .

Re: Hollywood Computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43020081)

I'm guessing you have been in jail or a coma since 1993.

That interface actually exists. If you haven't tried fsv once just for kicks, consider yourself a Linux noob.

Re:Hollywood Computers (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43019671)

Ya, OK. You just paraphrase the article that no one reads for mod points. Oh slashdot.

Re:Hollywood Computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43019909)

I never understood why anyone thought that the computer in Minority Report was something worth pursuing.

I don't understand why anybody actually thinks the crap in MR was actually any kind of influence on GUI development. It wasn't. We just use it as a reference point for discussion when trying to explain gesture interfaces to people who have no other way of understanding what the hell we're talking about. It's not because it was anything special, it's because it was a popular film and the production value was high.

Re:Hollywood Computers (3, Insightful)

Let's All Be Chinese (2654985) | about a year ago | (#43019919)

You ever wondered why everything had to become GUI-shaped, why people genuinely thought that if only everyone would use GUIs then productivity would soar?

The answer is simple: marketing. It looks shiny. It's got dancing rodents. This sells.

Hollywood is made of shiny visuals. And, of course, designers love good looking form to the point that function can get skimped on. redmond has been doing their level best to serve up their version of MovieOS, down to the security problems.

This is also why touchscreens got resurrected. Much sexier to have the display span the entire phone than only half and the rest be buttons. And can possibly be more intuitive than having something present with custom buttons for you to poke at, hm?

That there are serious downsides to both GUIs (eg. very hard to script and automate compared to CLIs) and touchscreens ("gorilla arm", for one, lack of tactile feedback for another) pales into insignificance next to the sheer power of a shiny all-singing all-dancing presentation carefully serving up some smooth-looking lies.

Case in point: The new "windows 8" interface and it getting pushed through no matter what, on phones AND desktops. They're giving a powerful message here, and the delivery simply trumps whatever you may want.

This isn't (anti-)fanboiism, by the by: I could also trot out examples from, say, apple, but they're not nearly as clumsy and blunt about it. You don't get much choice either, but the delivery is so much better ("reality distortion field") that it causes symptoms of religious cults in its adherents, making it that much harder to illustrate with without causing instant flamewar.

And part of it is indeed that emotions are involved, often enough deliberately so.

Re:Hollywood Computers (1)

peragrin (659227) | about a year ago | (#43020397)

let's start at the top

GUI's have increased productivity. How simply because instead of paying one UNIX guru to do it in 20 years, you can have 20 people do it in one.

The GUI interface and touchscreen interface is quick and easy. Mcdonalds, Dunkin Donuts, fast food, Heck that chain restaurant down the street are all having massive increases in possibly productivity because Touchscreens and GUI's make the employees have to push less buttons to get more consistent orders.

I would love to see you take my order at a restaurant with a command-line interface.

while touch screen every where like windows 8 is a bit much. touch is here to stay. you can clean up your desk quite nicely by having one or two touch screen tablets, working with your desktops. you can have multiple windows and screens open.

At home I have my laptop, my iphone, my nexus 7, and an iPad. each has their own use, each has their own purpose. and all get used mostly equally. I can sit and read books on the nexus, check emails quickly on my phone but if i really have to respond, I can wake the laptop up from sleep and work on that.

Computers are no longer an accurate term. They are more like informational machines.

Re:Hollywood Computers (1)

thedonger (1317951) | about a year ago | (#43020031)

I never understood why anyone thought that the computer in Minority Report was something worth pursuing.

I think there has always been a desire to make fantasy into reality. It is only recently, however, that technology and science has made it possible to do it quickly.

so they're saying... (2)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about a year ago | (#43019553)

computers in real life shouldn't work the way computers work in the movies. OK with me.

Re:so they're saying... (2)

enzo_romeo (756095) | about a year ago | (#43019771)

Yeah, most of the time in the movies they're just trying to kill everyone. So no big loss on me they don't work like that. Though I admit I would enjoy using Siri more if she were more like GlaDOS. She should at least have a sense of humor if she's going to give me the wrong information.

Re:so they're saying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43020201)

What no banks upon banks of flashing lights and reel to reel tape drives that spin backwards and fordwards reading the same kb of data over and over again ....??? Pfff

What a pointless discussion. If it's so bad then (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43019571)

people won't use it. Worse, there's not an element of news in the story. It's just an opinion piece.
You know, this format used to be reserved for editorials. For those rare moments when the news people had something to say about some government issue that they felt deserved a discussion beyond mere news reporting.
Now everyone are going about with this point less drivel on stuff that just have no public interest...
What a waste of time. I'm going to sleep. Wake me up when you something important to say.

but what about... (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43019631)

What about sick sticks? Those would be awesome! They're actually a stupidly bad and ineffective idea but it'd be funny.

NCIS (4, Informative)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about a year ago | (#43019647)

They've used the same style GUI on NCIS and it still looks horrible to use.

Re:NCIS (2)

cffrost (885375) | about a year ago | (#43020017)

They've used the same style GUI on NCIS and it still looks horrible to use.

That's fitting; NCIS looks horrible to watch. :o)

Re:NCIS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43020043)

I remember when they used to talk to each other remotely using big-screen TVs. Then for no reason (product placement? (no reason)), they started using shitty little video phones with 6" displays.

Re:NCIS (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about a year ago | (#43020317)

They still do -- the room with the big display is for secure remote communications. The little video phone moments are product placement moments between team members.

no feedback (5, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#43019653)

The biggest problem as I see it is that you can't feel the controls. Like all the interfaces in ST:TNG, there is too much dependence on having to look where your hands are. I think that's a distraction at a very basic level that we haven't fully noticed yet, let alone dealt with in any meaningful way.

Think of your old-school cell phone. You could make a call, even text, without looking at it. (Or, I could. Your mileage may vary, I guess.) Can you do that with your glass-smooth smartphone now?

And yeah, I know. "Siri, Call Police!" "Calling Portobello. When would you like reservations?"

As I see it, the big difference between physical controls and colors and text on a touchscreen is that you can manipulate physical controls while looking elsewhere. There are times when that may be kinda important.

Re:no feedback (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year ago | (#43019717)

Exactly why I did NOT get a Samsung Galaxy S3 and went for a Samsung Galaxy S Relay instead. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the Phone key (though for some reason there is an e-mail key, a text message key, function-.= .com, and a voice mode key, all squeezed into the thumbboard). I also have yet to learn to touch type numbers on it.

Re:no feedback (2)

green1 (322787) | about a year ago | (#43019961)

I gave up. I really didn't want a phone without a physical keyboard. but at the same time, I did want a modern phone, and the manufacturers refuse to sell anything where I am that qualifies as both. The only phones I can find with physical keyboards are a minimum of about 3 generations behind the current phones.
So I compromised and gave up on a physical keyboard. Unfortunately I'm now "proof" to these idiot companies that people "want" phones without keyboards, when in fact I'm the opposite, there just wasn't an option there that fit.

Re:no feedback (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43019743)

Star Trek is actually a great illustration of this, there were times in the original series where the actors had their hands on controls but attention focused on the action for dramatic effect, they didn't need to constantly look down as in the Next Generation.

Re:no feedback (3, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#43019927)

Star Trek is actually a great illustration of this, there were times in the original series where the actors had their hands on controls but attention focused on the action for dramatic effect, they didn't need to constantly look down as in the Next Generation.

Exactly. In the old series, the controls may have been in weird shapes and not labeled unless the audience needed them to be, but they were physical controls, and the odd shapes could actually help the operator manipulate them by feel. All that is lost in modern-looking interfaces.

Re:no feedback (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43020091)

and that was the reason Tom Paris built in tactile controls in the Delta Flyer. Things that "look" cool do not always translate in to things that function well

Re:no feedback (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year ago | (#43020307)

Star Trek is actually a great illustration of this, there were times in the original series where the actors had their hands on controls but attention focused on the action for dramatic effect, they didn't need to constantly look down as in the Next Generation.

They didn't actually constantly look down in Next Generation, nor did they need to (either actually or in-fiction.) Actually, because the controls weren't on the props but were digitally added in post production, and in-fiction because they used fancy adaptive interfaces that were customized to the individual user so that your controls would be exactly where they were most comfortable for them to be for you (my Trek lore is not good enough to recall whether there were also supposed to be haptics involved or not.)

Meh.... (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | about a year ago | (#43019801)

Before I got my iphone, I'd have agreed with you. I seriously thought of ditching my Android for an old school phone with a real number pad. But with contacts and a touch screen that actually work, I hardly ever key in a number now. Full disclaimer: I've never been much of a texter, so can't really compare the interfaces in that context.

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43020037)

But with contacts and a touch screen that actually work, I hardly ever key in a number now.

And is the contacts list any easier to use by feel than the direct number entry?

Re:no feedback (4, Interesting)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#43019895)

Like all the interfaces in ST:TNG, there is too much dependence on having to look where your hands are.

There are some things TNG predicted well, but a few glaringly funny missteps in retrospect. My two favorite are:

1) Piles of PADDs. There's a few scenes where someone is "doing a lot of reading" or "has a lot of reports to file" and so they have a bunch of PADDs strewn about their desk. Little did I know I needed a separate Kindle for each ebook I read.

2) Lt. Commander Data types at consoles and reads screens. Apparently, Data is neither WiFi nor Bluetooth enabled.

Obviously no one expects the writers to accurately predict the future of computer interfaces in 1988, but these always struck me as funny when I look back.

Re:no feedback (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43020125)

Like all the interfaces in ST:TNG, there is too much dependence on having to look where your hands are.

There are some things TNG predicted well, but a few glaringly funny missteps in retrospect. My two favorite are:

1) Piles of PADDs. There's a few scenes where someone is "doing a lot of reading" or "has a lot of reports to file" and so they have a bunch of PADDs strewn about their desk. Little did I know I needed a separate Kindle for each ebook I read.

I will agree with this, that is just hilarious.

2) Lt. Commander Data types at consoles and reads screens. Apparently, Data is neither WiFi nor Bluetooth enabled.

Obviously no one expects the writers to accurately predict the future of computer interfaces in 1988, but these always struck me as funny when I look back.

This might have been a built in security measure. I only say this because he was built to be human like, and he strove to be more human. Additionaly it may have been seen as a security measure, Data on the bridge and he gets hacked by the Romulans because of an insecure WifFi connection. though if he was originally WiFi or Bluetooth enabled, he very well may have disengaged it himself.

Re:no feedback (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year ago | (#43020341)

There are some things TNG predicted well, but a few glaringly funny missteps in retrospect. My two favorite are:

1) Piles of PADDs. There's a few scenes where someone is "doing a lot of reading" or "has a lot of reports to file" and so they have a bunch of PADDs strewn about their desk. Little did I know I needed a separate Kindle for each ebook I read.

Lots of the time, they are cross-referencing things in parallel, which is inconvenient on a single screen of that size. With replicators, PADDs are presumably literally as cheap as dirt, rather than luxury gadgets, so there's no real reason not to have one for each document when you need to do that.

Re:no feedback (4, Interesting)

green1 (322787) | about a year ago | (#43019941)

The biggest problem as I see it is that you can't feel the controls. Like all the interfaces in ST:TNG, there is too much dependence on having to look where your hands are. I think that's a distraction at a very basic level that we haven't fully noticed yet, let alone dealt with in any meaningful way.

Think of your old-school cell phone. You could make a call, even text, without looking at it. (Or, I could. Your mileage may vary, I guess.) Can you do that with your glass-smooth smartphone now?

Unfortunately physical buttons are expensive, especially on a device that really needs a touch screen for some things anyway. I clung to my slide out qwerty keyboard for as long as I could, but had to eventually get a touchscreen because that's all the manufacturers want to make.
The good news is that it's not a problem that people don't know about. And in fact several companies have come up with various technologies to try to make a touchscreen tactile (I saw one idea that was basically inflatable bubbles under the surface of the screen that could inflate buttons as needed, I believe it was blackberry who a while ago made their whole screen push in like a button when you clicked on it, and of course almost every phone these days has haptic feedback (which I usually turn off as soon as I can)). Unfortunately none of these have worked well yet, but give it some time and we may get there yet.

I do find it interesting that you mention ST:TNG, from what I understand the theory behind their LCARS "touchscreens" was that it actually was tactile, just using a technology that we don't yet have (and that obviously wasn't so visible on screen) with the idea that you could actually have the best of both worlds. A shared console that each user could easily re-arrange for their particular preference, or current task, while still retaining the feel of real buttons. At the moment the idea sounds really appealing, but it's a ways off in implementation yet.

Even before (0)

starfishsystems (834319) | about a year ago | (#43019657)

More than a decade ago, the special effects artists working the Steven Spielberg film Minority Report synthesized experimental thinking about GUIs to produce a floating interface that Tom Cruise manipulated with his hands."

And about a decade before that, people in my lab were arlready testing the effectiveness of haptic interfaces to simulate force-feedback and texture. It was fairly crude and preliminary, but the concept was already established to the point where undergrads had access to this stuff.

But it doesn't look like all that interesting on the silver screen, so I guess Hollywood didn't bother with it.

Be sure to warm up first (2)

Isca (550291) | about a year ago | (#43019693)

After all, who doesn't like to have to do calisthenics before they try to do something complicated such as DRAG FILES FROM A FOLDER AND OPEN THEM!

"centuries"? (2, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43019699)

What kinds of devices have we been interacting with for centuries? That's what I'd like to know.

Re:"centuries"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43019797)

Cannons, pumps, plows, mills, saws, wagons,...

Or were you using a private definition of device?

Re:"centuries"? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43019831)

So is he suggesting that all technology which enables us to interact in any sort of virtual sense with some type of environment is inherently flawed?

That would mean the mouse is bad... and the keyboard too, for that matter.... since we are not physically drawing any letters that we type ourselves, we are directing a machine to do it for us.

Re:"centuries"? (2)

erice (13380) | about a year ago | (#43019841)

What kinds of devices have we been interacting with for centuries? That's what I'd like to know.

Steering wheels on ships go back three centuries.
Steam trains go back almost two centuries
Telephones, telegraphs, and typewriters go back more than a century.

Re:"centuries"? (1)

WizADSL (839896) | about a year ago | (#43019857)

What kinds of devices have we been interacting with for centuries? That's what I'd like to know.

Well, when speaking about haptic and textured feedback I think "devices" was the wrong word, I think he should have said something like "cat".

Re:"centuries"? (1)

Geheimagent (679949) | about a year ago | (#43019859)

What kinds of devices have we been interacting with for centuries? That's what I'd like to know.

The nipples of your mother. The only intuitive interface in the world.

Re:"centuries"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43019915)

You've never known someone who was breastfeeding, have you?

It's not that intuitive.

Re:"centuries"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43019959)

That's funny, because the human breast shape is actually not optimized for suckling & babies often have trouble "latching on", especially with larger breasts.

What ARE breasts optimized for? I couldn't say...

Re:"centuries"? (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | about a year ago | (#43019963)

What kinds of devices have we been interacting with for centuries?

Well, sticks and rocks, which can be used as devices. Simple machines (at least since the Grecian days). Also books (primitive information transmission devices, soon to be rendered obsolete). Clocks, microscopes, telescopes... And the list goes on. Many "devices" have been known for quite a while, even if they don't (necessarily) have digital interfaces...

There's a big difference... (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year ago | (#43019733)

...between reality emulating film and reality converging on film. The former is something that should generally be avoided when it comes to cinematic user interfaces, given that most of them are designed for cinematic effect, rather than usability. On the flip side, there's nothing wrong with the latter taking place if it just so happens that better usability corresponds to something that's shown up in films (or books, or any other form of media) already. We see this sort of thing happen on a regular basis with sci-fi media inspiring ideas that have value in the real world.

The touchscreens we've been seeing the last few years were in direct response to issues that existed with older-style smartphones, namely that the apps were cramped on a small screen, most of the buttons were useless for a good part of the time, and without relying on specialty buttons, we had to rely on multi-purposing some buttons for additional uses. By making the buttons virtual, the apps themselves become more useful since they can occupy the entire surface of the device, the buttons become more useful because they can visually change to become appropriate for the state in which the app currently resides, and far less irrelevant or extraneous interface shows up on-screen at any given time, thus putting the focus where it belongs.

As the summary mentions (I can't be bothered to read the article, of course), the change to touchscreens did come with some drawbacks, particularly when it comes to haptic feedback, but most of those can be addressed with various advances in technology [gamespot.com] and engineering [venturebeat.com] .

So, yes, we have some catching up to do to achieve everything we had before, but in the meantime we've gained something more important: smartphones that live up to their name.

Touch Screens Suck for a lot of things. (4, Interesting)

Melibeus (94008) | about a year ago | (#43019735)

I remember the local performing arts center getting new stage managers' consoles. The stupid thing was that the que buttons were on a touch screen. So their was no non-visual feedback as to wether it had been pressed or not. A stage manager has to keep their focus on the stage. They went back to the old push button system. This is just one example where the lack of kinaesthetic feedback makes touch screens a bad UI choice. There are many more examples. Wherever one needs to operate a control without looking directly at that control touch screens are a bad choice.

Re:Touch Screens Suck for a lot of things. (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year ago | (#43020293)

The stupid thing was that the que buttons were on a touch screen.

it was a stage version of Fawlty Towers?

It's a matter of precision (4, Interesting)

GreggBz (777373) | about a year ago | (#43019737)

First, one thing we all probably notice is that your arms are going to get so tired after waving them around so dramatically during a good work session.

Second, what's always fascinated me, is that these large, exaggerated gesture and touch based interfaces always seem to reduce your big inputs into something more precise, where as a mouse / keyboard interface will magnify your already precise movements into something larger.

It's a question of precision I guess. A fingertip can cover up to 30 pixels when you hit the screen with it.. A mouse can be made to hover over 1 or 2 pixels before you click it.

Re:It's a matter of precision (2)

green1 (322787) | about a year ago | (#43020025)

But that is exactly the point. watching someone move a mouse around is boring, if you want it to be interesting in a movie you need to exaggerate the gestures. Little things don't show well on screen, so they get made big.
For film this is good. The problem isn't that these are bad movie interfaces, they're actually very good for movies. The problem only comes when someone watches the movie and then decides they should cripple the rest of the world with the same interface because it looks neat.

Re:It's a matter of precision (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43020087)

First, one thing we all probably notice is that your arms are going to get so tired after waving them around so dramatically during a good work session.

I guess nobody could ever exhibit fine motor control for hours on end in that scenario. I wonder what a painting easel is for.

In reality, your body adapts. The "gorilla arms" theory is bunk.

Wrong movie to go on! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43019747)

Hackers obviously had the best interface. Why look for a file in an alphabetical list when you can glide around virtual skyscrapers randomly searching for info?

It's perfect.

And Hollywood is accurate when? (1)

Prien715 (251944) | about a year ago | (#43019769)

Is it any surprise that Hollywood gets UI wrong in favor of "looking good" when we have:
* Bad physics (don't even get me started on the sound explosions make in space)
* Bad understanding of current technology (every hacking movie ever -- with the very notable exception of The Social Network)
* Bad history (based on a true story!)
Etc etc.

Hollywood fundamentally wants to make something that "looks pretty" and to hell with practical applications -- because that pretty picture is ultimately what is being delivered to you. In other news, I'm guessing the food in movies doesn't taste as good as it looks either -- but I sympathize with that are set with the general public and those whose job it is to fulfill them.

Lt Barclay had it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43019813)

BARCLAY: Computer, begin new programme. Create as follows, workstation chair. (he sits in it) Now, create a standard alphanumeric console positioned for left hand. Now an iconic display console positioned for right hand. Tie both consoles into the Enterprise main computer core, utilising neural-scan interface.

COMPUTER: There is no such device on file.

BARCLAY: No problem. Here's how you build it.

"Terrible?" (5, Informative)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#43019849)

Minority Report's interface was not "terrible." It was really good, and so are most interfaces seen in movies.

Well, they're really good for doing what they're supposed to do.

What's the purpose of an interface? To provide a means to make what you want to do understood, and to provide feedback on the results of your actions or requests, and both of these things should be clean and unambiguous.

In a real-life interface, when you're trying to "ACCESS FILES" you move a tiny cursor with small hand gestures and then double click on a "Documents" folder that's next to a bunch of other folders, all labeled with small text fonts. Then you look past a bunch of unrelated files to find the one you might be looking for. Or type "ls" in a command line and a bunch of filenames scroll by. And if you need to enter a name and password, a small box appears for you, and when you get the password right, the box just disappears with no other information, or you get a small red line of text that says "wrong username or password."

This is effective for IRL computer systems, as it makes it easy for the user to unambiguously communicate what they're trying to do, and the results are obvious. In a movie, this is terrible. The director has a three second cut to the screen where the hero is trying to ACCESS SECRET FILES before the rogue agent comes back into his office. And you can hear his footsteps coming down the hall! And a cut to the door handle turning! A cut to the hero! And a cut to the screen! And in those brief cuts, you need to unambiguously tell the audience what's going on with the computer. "ACCESS SECRET FILES: ENTER PASSWORD." "ACCESS DENIED." "ENTER PASSWORD." "ACCESS GRANTED!" "COPYING SECRET FILES 15%.30%." Oh, and bonus points if the hero's face is reflected in the screen, because then the audience can see not only that he's trying to ACCESS SECRET FILES but also his intense expression, to build tension in a scene that's basically about pressing buttons on a computer.

So the interface in Minority Report was great. Cruise was doing something really boring: looking up files on a computer. Spielberg could have just plopped him down in front of Windows 2054 (it's a redress of Windows ME) and had him click on some icons, but instead we get to see exactly what he's doing with big, obvious gestures. "Looking at several videos! Picking these! Rejecting these! Zooming in on these! Marking that!" And all the while you got to see his face through the transparent glass screen. Cruise's actions are clear and unambiguous and his goal and the results are communicated well to the audience. That's a great "interface" between the director and the viewers.

Just saying, you don't pay Tom Cruise $20 million and then spend 2 minutes of your movie showing a mouse clicking around a screen.

Re:"Terrible?" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43019935)

Wait now, you're talking WAY too much sense for a slashdot comment. Please relocate it to more appropriate website.

Minority Report type of Floating Interface? (3, Insightful)

dgharmon (2564621) | about a year ago | (#43019853)

"In 2013, surrounded by iOS and Android and Windows 8 devices, we use stripped down versions of this interface every day"

No we don't, iOS and the rest were never based on anything from Minority Report. The problem with a Minority Report type of floating interface is that you arms very quickly get fatigued. See an early 3D file system viewer ..

FSN -- the IRIX 3D file system tool from Jurassic Park [siliconbunny.com]

SGI Fusion [youtube.com]

The fly (1986 film) (1)

hugortega (721079) | about a year ago | (#43020009)

The Telepod computer, best computer interface ever :) ... (siri sucks compared with that beautiful CLI hehehe)

Huge string of numbers (1)

hey (83763) | about a year ago | (#43020051)

Notice how Tom Cruise has to list of a huge string of numbers at the start of that clip?
How intuitive and handy.

this predates minority report (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43020089)

This is funny to me, because I was watching some old trance music videos for a good laugh last night, and I noticed that at least a couple years before minority report ever came out that they featured these kinds of interfaces. Here's an example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTHrIPHCBK4

I grew up in a corner of the world that thought this kind of music was for the gays, so I spent being 10 years old thinking 'goddammit the future is obviously happening everywhere but here, all i get to wallow in here is pro wrestling, tom green, and shitty post grunge'... hahaha oh god how far we've come

Shark Successfully Jumped (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43020151)

Nobody instituted gesture interfaces because of Minority Report. Everyone malleable enough to do something like that because of a Sci-Fi movie had already seen Johnny Mnemonic.

Inaccurate Article (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43020155)

First, I'm not totally clear on this person's background; a critical writer with visual arts experience. Of course he himself has put little to no work into any pratical design of any kind of interface. Unlike either Jaron Lanier or John Underkoffler. The latter designed the whole interface based on 3d spatial gestures (not touch screen one two axis gestures). He is an MIT grad and its not like he just sort of randomly came up with some gestures to make it "look" good. In fact he has a commercial company that has REAL 3d spatial interfaces: oblong industries. These use much of the same gesture vocabulary that was developed for Minority Report.

Secondly, these are not radically different then arm-bands or other attached sensors. In fact in the movie - and in current real world scenarios of oblong products - the user puts on small gloves that allow for very precise gesture measurement. Of course much the same can be done with a a device such as the Kinect. Now an arm band that does muscle sensing uses different "input" but its still an input device using spatial changes as part of its input method.

Thirdly, the point of these interfaces is to move from a verbal vocabulary to a bodily one. I saw both John Underkoffler talk (as well as some of the people who have worked with him). One of their main themes is to get the whole body involved in the expression of "language" used to interact with the computer. The idea is how can you do complex computer interaction with your whole body. The idea is NOT how can you replace the mouse or keyboard. The idea is that the entire body is involved in human experience and expression so how can you engage it human computer interaction.

Fourth, the author of the article does not propose ANY alternatives. Just that he does not like something. I don't think Lanier or Underkoffler would claim they have solved all the problems and limitations of interacting with computers. But, they have made some substantial contributions that at minim provide potential directions and anti-directiosn for future research. While I don't mind critique just saying "it's all bad" without any attempt to contribute seems childish. Is childish.

FTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43020267)

In 2013, surrounded by iOS and Android, we use stripped down versions of this interface every day

FTFY

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