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Tangible Interfaces for Computers

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the big-ideas-besides-the-mouse dept.

GUI 158

Jesrad writes "A friend pointed me to this impressive demonstration of the SenseTable by James Patten, of the Tangible Media Group project of the MIT. This project aims at conceiving better human-machine interfaces by using the concept of physical objects that the user can manipulate, to represent abstract computer data and commands. The device looks and works a lot like what was envisioned in Minority Report, it uses pressure to track blocks on a sensitive surface, and feeds back to the user by superimposing graphical data. Want to change the volume of your MP3 player? Just put a block on it and turn like you would a radio knob. Menus and commands are accessed by moving a block along command hierarchy, represented in a simple tree, or by touching the command's name. So far it only lacks a device for text input, like a keyboard, but maybe voice recognition will replace it?"

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GNAA Announces responsibility for kernel backdoor (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424060)

GNAA Announces responsibility for kernel backdoor
By Tim Copperfield
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Insertion of the GNAA backdoor came right between the consideration of Novell [novell.com] to buy out the entire Lunix Kernel programming team, and will most likely positively affect the decision. By adding all the gay niggers working for Novell with the gay niggers developing Lunix kernel source, GNAA will be all-powerful and will begin plotting our next plans to add "backdoors" into the next favorite operating system, BeOS [microsoft.com] .

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About Lunix
Lunix is an operating system. An operating system is the basic set of programs and utilities that make your computer run. Some other common operating systems are Unix (and its variants BSD, AIX, Solaris, HPUX, and others); DOS; Microsoft Windows; Amiga; and Mac OS.
Lunix is Free Software. Now, just because it's Free, doesn't necessarily mean it's free. Think "free" as in "free speech," not "free beer," as we in the Free Software/Open Source community like to say. In a nutshell, software that is free as in speech, like Lunix, is distributed along with its source code so that anyone who receives it is free to make changes and redistribute it. So, not only is it ok to make copies of Lunix and give them to your friends, it's also fine to tweak a few lines of the source code while you're at it -- as long as you also freely provide your modified source code to everyone else. To learn more about free software and the major software license it is distributed under, called the General Public License (GPL), go here [com.com] .

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WTF! - For Crissake! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424080)

For the life of me I can't figure out why the lameness filter cannot block this garbage! Taco are you listening! I can't take it any more! Either block this shit or post the bastards IP address so the slashdot community can take him out. I am not alone in this...

Re:WTF! - For Crissake! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424218)

I don't think that will be any help, due to the anonymous proxy servers.

Re:WTF! - For Crissake! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424250)

I don't think the bastard is that smart...

Ok, you asked for it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424293)

I can't say who I am really am, but but you could say I certainly enjoy eating a very tasty and common mexican dish, if you know what I mean.

207.126.99.173 and they have alternates on 207.126.99.143 and 207.126.99.165 as well.

Go to work gentlemen,
T

SIR HAXALOT RAED THIS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424120)

Please post the Google cache link!

Oh this is soooo cool.. (-1, Redundant)

erc (38443) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424067)

Man, this is sooo cool! I always wanted my own cool-looking computer interface, just like in the movies ;)

Re:Oh this is soooo cool.. (1)

Cazov (722114) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424072)

yea...like...movies are going to have better war rooms now...not only can there be fighting in the war room, but they can throw stuff!

Re:Oh this is soooo cool.. (1)

liverslury (722275) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424104)

I wonder if the footprint of these devices would be prohibitive for many people's home and work environments where space could be at a premium. Still, this thing rocks.

Absolutely amazing (1)

downix (84795) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424071)

I've seen virtual keyboards, but this is beyond amazing. I do not think in a few years we will be able to recognize a computer. It will have evolved that much.

Star Trek IV (3, Funny)

holt_rpi (454352) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424096)

SCOTTY: Computer....Computer? (Technician hands SCOTTY the mouse. SCOTTY uses it as a microphone) Hello, computer.

TECHNICIAN: Just use the keyboard!

SCOTTY: The keyboard? How quaint!

Or, alternatively, (4, Interesting)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424159)

It won't work.

The typewriter interface has been with us for over a century. We've become accustomed to it.

I remember watching Minority Report and thinking "people don't like computers now. Do you think they'll be willing to learn such an obviously unintuitive and totally new interface?"

This seemed like it would be especially true outside the tech sector, such as, for instance, in law enforcement.

Remember that the only intuitive interface is the nipple. Everything else is learned. Some people may use this, yes, but I doubt most. I don't think most can deal with anything beyond using the mouse and keyboard.

Otherwise, the following things would be used, since they're faster even though they have a higher learning curve:
-mouse gestures would be HUGELY in use
-keyboard shortcuts would be known by almost everyone
-everyone would be using vi or emacs in a wysiwsg mode instead of wordpad/notepad/word.
-User interfaces with only a single type of action (clicky-clicky) wouldn't be popular.

When and if this is ever true of most of society, then we'll be ready for the new interfaces.

Re:Or, alternatively, (1)

viware (680138) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424241)

-mouse gestures would be HUGELY in use -keyboard shortcuts would be known by almost everyone -everyone would be using vi or emacs in a wysiwsg mode instead of wordpad/notepad/word. -User interfaces with only a single type of action (clicky-clicky) wouldn't be popular.
I disagree. Those things make using a keyboard and mouse harder, whereas new input devices could be easier to use than a keyboard and mouse. The reason no new technologies have been widely used is because they have no significant advantage, and we already know how to use the keyboard and mouse.

If a new input device (maybe a nipple? :) ) was introduced which was intuitive, easy to use and had a significant advantage over the current devices, I think it would be picked up in a second.

Re:Or, alternatively, (2, Funny)

Micro$will (592938) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424738)

If a new input device (maybe a nipple? :) ) was introduced which was intuitive, easy to use and had a significant advantage over the current devices, I think it would be picked up in a second.

A nipple is no good in it's current implimentation, which explains why I use a USB mouse with my Thinkpad. I find it very hard to suck on the nipple (Trackpoint), see the screen, and click the mouse buttons at the same time. Plus my boss accuses me of sleeping on the job due to "keyboard face".

Re:Or, alternatively, (3, Interesting)

Shrubber (552857) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424286)

I think it would *especially* be easier to implement outside of the tech sector where you do have a lot of people who are not used to the typewriter interface, even today.

A huge number of people have no idea what they're doing with a computer in their jobs, they simply are trained to press buttons and click a mouse in a certain set of steps in order to do what they need to do in order to get their paycheck. Really most office workers aren't much different than Pavlov's dogs.

On the other hand those people are going to be easier to train to use a completely new interface seeing as they don't know the underlaying reasons WHY they do what they do today.

Obviously the people who have grown up with what we have today will take longer to get used to anything new, but people have managed to learn how to use new input interfaces (mouse, touchpad, "nipple"), graphical user interfaces, etc. I'm not so sure about how useful something like this will be in reality, it has a great gee whiz factor, but if it works well people can adapt.

Re:Or, alternatively, (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424343)

Something similar was said when the mouse was first invented...

Re:Absolutely amazing (1)

Mr. Light Touch (18906) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424314)

Not to be a total plug, but FingerWorks MultiTouch technology offers seamless gestures, pointing, and typing on the same surface. Very similar to this MIT work, except you don't manipulate secondary objects, you manipulate fingers on the surface directly. Different finger combinations can attach to different controls like Zoom, Undo/Redo, etc. We'll soon have an SDK available with which you can directly connect zoom/scale/translate hand motions to your favorite GUI controls.

For those who haven't noticed yet, we've been on the market for two years. Haven't taken over yet, but we've made many a power user happy :)

http://forums.fingerworks.com

Linux geeks... (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424317)

I do not think in a few years we will be able to recognize a computer. It will have evolved that much.


And the Linux geeks will be using *40* year old Unix commands, raving about vi and the great CLI.

Keyboard implementation should be easy... (2, Insightful)

internet-redstar (552612) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424073)

... just press the button to type the specific character?
One could even have different keyboard layouts being switchable with a knob... oh, wonder, wonder!

Feel free to add other irony below...

Re:Keyboard implementation should be easy... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424101)

Isn't it ironic how you put all that thought into your post, yet no one really cares?

Re:Keyboard implementation should be easy... (0, Offtopic)

internet-redstar (552612) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424131)

About your 'caring' remark...
a friend of mine just send a mail messege to one of the OpenSource projects he sometimes sends a bugreport to, with congrats to the other people for their work.

If we don't pay for our software, we can at least pat each others backs :)


GNU, bringing the fun back into computing :)

Re:Keyboard implementation should be easy... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424138)

You are an asshole. Not because what you said was mean, but because you made me spit my coffee onto my laptop screen. Looking at the comment again, it isn't nearly as funny. It just hit me right when I first read it.

Now I'm just waiting for some fucking moronic yellow-toothed wanker brit to point out how the American English definition of "ironic" is so far off.

Re:Keyboard implementation should be easy... (2, Interesting)

Jesrad (716567) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424106)

Change your keyboard layout (which would be projected on the SenseTable) by dragging the letters around ? The possibilities are nearly endless.

Aww (0)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424075)

Dang, Slashdotted already. That didn't take long.

Re:Aww Slashdotted Already (1)

Codifex Maximus (639) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424446)

I managed to read the page but can't get at any of the demonstration videos.

Anyway, as for a pressure sensitive table, it sounds like a great idea but... I thought they were working on a table that read variances in the magnetic flux caused by hands moving over the table.

anal sex with a yoshi (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424078)

I have a weird friend. He writes weird stories about a fictional person called Yoshi [bayou.com] You get searches looking for anal sex with a yoshi when really Yoshi drinks a bad soup. Somebody should have told him that Yoshi as a made up name would lead to trouble when Yoshi is more common than you would have thought.

Get it right man! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424214)

It's a YODA doll not Yoshi!

Tangible Interface huh ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424082)

Just tell me where to stick my penis and I'll be fine

I can't do that. But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424262)

I can tell you where to stick a greased up Yoda doll. =)

CheezyDee's Freestyle Fix (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424086)

"Yoda Doll" sung to the tune of "Diamond Girl" by that homo Johnny "Oh" as in "Oh shit I have a cock in my mouth!"

If you can feel what I am feeling
Then the grease is just believing
You're my, you're my Yoda Doll

Yoda Doll you make my ass feel
Like i'm on fire when you are near
You captivate me with your smile
Your grease lets me get so wild
Ooh oh Yoda Doll
Your my Yoda Doll
Ooh oh Yoda Doll
Greased up Yoda Doll

Yoda Doll i'd like to know
If you get in my back door
Which will only make me want you more
Get your greased ass on the floor
Ooh oh Yoda Doll
Your my Yoda Doll
Ooh oh Yoda Doll
Greased up Yoda Doll

If you can feel what I am feeling
Then the grease is just believing
You're my, you're my Yoda Doll
Ooh oh Yoda Doll

You fit right in my sphincter
I'm so proud to have you in me
I persist to enjoy all your grease
I persist to enjoy all your grease
I persist to enjoy all your grease
I persist to enjoy all your grease
I persist to enjoy all your grease

Yoda Doll where we go wrong
The love I felt was all gone
Why did I pull you out so soon
Look at all the shit in this room

If you can feel what I am feeling
Then the grease is just believing
You're my, you're my Yoda Doll
Ooh oh Yoda Doll
You'll always be my Yoda Doll
Greased up Yoda Doll

Yoda Doll tu me aces centir
Como estoy en fuego junto ati
Tu me captivas con tu grasa
Te quiro dar todo mi culo
Mi Muneca de Yoda
Si tu eres si tu eres
Your my Yoda Doll
You fit right in my sphincter
Im so proud to have you in me
Your my, my Yoda Doll

umm... (2, Insightful)

mozumder (178398) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424092)

So why can't you just put a volume knob on that MP3 player?

Re:umm... (1)

Pathetic Coward (33033) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424115)

Because it isn't rilly cool and techy.

Re:umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424119)

I did just that, but for some reason when I try to turn it with my fingers it doesn't move :(

You mean I have to use this "mouse" thing to move the pointy thing to the volume knob to operate it ?</clueless>

Combine with smoke screens ! (2, Interesting)

Jesrad (716567) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424093)

Now we just have to convince the guys who make these [slashdot.org] to associate with the Tangible Media people. Minority Report indeed.

Now when somebody asks... (4, Funny)

p4ul13 (560810) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424110)

"Where's the any key?"

You'll have to reply with "Well where did you leave it last?"

Re:Now when somebody asks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424662)

"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oral audible hell (4, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424113)

"So far it only lacks a device for text input, like a keyboard, but maybe voice recognition will replace it?"

Or maybe they'll just plug a keyboard into it? Voice recognition may well have its uses, especially as an accessibility technology, but as a general input device it's really a pretty poor idea.

Unless we're all supposed to sit in a cone of silence or something.

KFG

Re:Oral audible hell (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424145)

on screen keyboard anyone?

Re:Oral audible hell (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424201)

on screen keyboard anyone?

So long as you can touch type on it at 80 wpm, or even two finger "Columbus Method" at 40 wpm.

On screen "keyboards" suck. A lot. And hard too. Not to mention what they cost in Windex.

About the only thing worse is selecting words from a dictionary.

KFG

Call me a skeptic (5, Insightful)

GFW (673143) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424116)

While various varieties of tangible interfaces might be useful in specific circumstances, the typical user doesn't want more crap on their desk. They want a flat, easily positioned, brillant screen (or three). They want a keyboard (which could be virtual, but most people prefer some tactile feedback for typing). They want something for pointing (which could be a glove, a mouse, entirely virtual, ...) They don't want a metaphor that looks like Play-School.

Re:Call me a skeptic (0, Troll)

Zebbers (134389) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424164)

ummm maybe
like ms drones
they want all that cause they havent experienced anything else

i know i havent....
but would love the opportunity

Re:Call me a skeptic (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424168)

Additionally, it doesn't seem to me that there's much of a difference between this and current user interfaces. It looks shiny, but basically what they do is use a block of wood to point at things instead of a mouse. And orientation matters as well as position. Other than that, it's just drag-and-drop and point-and-click, except without mouse buttons and with shiny lights...

Lourens

Call ME a sceptic! (1)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424169)

I bet that what most of the typical users really want is to get all this crap they have off the desk: the monitor smashed in, the keyboard thrown out of the window and the mouse stuffed up the sysadmin's, because the software side of the interface is non-intuitive and can be frustruating to use.

Re:Call me a skeptic (1)

dmorelli (615543) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424269)

Like the interface in Minority Report with the gloves. It was fantastic.

Re:Call me a skeptic (3, Insightful)

gidds (56397) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424324)

How many people said something similar when the WIMP environment (e.g. Mac) went public? "Real computers need you to type everything! Anything worthwhile can be shown as text - if I want to see pretty pictures I'll go to an art gallery! And keep those mice in the toybox where they belong!"

Initially, that took lots of space, seemed a waste of resources, and you couldn't do much with it. Since then, resources have increased tremendously, new applications and methods have been developed that make good use of it, and people see the extra desk space as worthwhile. I don't know if the same might happen to the SenseTable, but I do know that if so, it won't be because it fits today's hardware, apps, and interfaces, but because it'll fit tomorrow's.

No,This is perfect for Dyslexics and others! (4, Interesting)

Wacky_Wookie (683151) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424427)

This is perfect for Dyslexics!

And I should know, I am one.

For Dyslexics and people who have never used a computer before, a command line only interface is a MASSIVE hurdle. A GUI speeds up the time it takes a dyslexic to learn about computers by a factor of 10. A tactile user interface would IMHO speed up the learning (and normal human/computer interactions) by a factor of 1000.

For example I cannot spell, yet I'm asked to write the User Docs for my firms computer systems all the time. If I were in the land of Typewriters, I would probably not even have a job, let alone be asked to write for other people. So the GUI did for my computer interest, the same thing computers with spell check did to my Employability.

As a dyslexic, a TUI (Tactile User Interface) matched with a good 2D or 3D GUI is the Holy Grail.

In fact, a TUI would turn a 3D user interface into use full human/computer interaction method.

The Human brain is designed to work in a 3D space with tactile feedback. Anything else requires the brain to waste resources on "translator system" in order to use things like command line only interfaces. And for Dyslexics, everything is mucked up in "translation".

If computers had been command line only when I was in school, I would not have been interested in them and would not be doing what I am doing right now: Sitting in the office on Saturday night (I'm in London) Posting on Slashdot instead of ironing out the kinks these new computers that my firm just bought.

Wait...maybe GUI's are bad J:)

Re:No,This is perfect for Dyslexics and others! (1)

AlgoRhythm (701779) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424706)

That's cool, I hadn't even considered the trouble a dyslexic would have with a text based interface.

I was thinking as a musician (which some might consier to be another result of mis-wiring in the brain :-) that we are generally trying to minimize the amount of friction the interface contributes to the task of controlling the computer as an instrumnt. I believe this is one of the reasons it has taken so long for them to catch on in music in general, and are still rarely used in performance for anything other than playback (i.e. nothing interactive). This will make manipulation faster and more natural, and provide a better visual representation of the hierarchical structure inherent in most synthesis and effects algorithms.

This is definitely a huge step in the right direction; now if only it will go into some kind of production (or I find time to research and build on myself).

As a programmer ... (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424674)

What I want for development is a wall size display with sensors that can tell where my fingers are and what my eyes are looking at. I want it to recognize gestures for scrolling around, linking, backing up, and so on. That's for examining code. When I write code, I want a keyboard. Voice control might be useful for a few queries, such as Who Wrote This, Where Is This Used, but in general I don't want to spend all day yakking to a computer.

For home use, voice response for controlling a/v, lights, etc, that could be handy, to an extent. Door bell rings, the door camera shows on the TV, I yell TALK and the circuit comes alive so I can talk with the person at the door.

Home use is the tricky stuff. Office use is pretty simplistic and regular, and you don't want much voice control because you'd wear yourself out at the end of the day.

My suggestion (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424117)

Dudes! I have a better idea. We all know that surfing porn is 99% of the activity done on computers anyway, so my idea is buy a grapefruit, cut out a hole in the middle, squeeze in some lube, and stick your dick in that. There, a cheap I/O device for most of your computing needs! Ergonomic, inexpensive, gets you off, and feels better than your hand!

Wack! Wack! Wack!

Re:My suggestion (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424179)

I think you just inspired http://fruitse.cx

oh no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424118)

i can't feel my mouse!

Talking to my computer... (5, Funny)

haydon4 (123439) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424125)

So far it only lacks a device for text input, like a keyboard, but maybe voice recognition will replace it?

I talk to my computer enough as it is. The day that it actually listens to me is that day that I'll have to rebuild it every other week, and red will be the day when it starts talking back to me.

pateNTdead eyecon0meter kode voted mostly user (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424132)

friendly.

it's also unbreakable, & wwworks on several (more than 3) dimensions.

did we mention that it's absolutely free? that wouldn't be totally accurate, as with anything worthwhile, it requires yOUR participation, which is equal to yOUR intentions/motives/behaviours. the price is right on this won.

there is no 'next big thing', particularly if you ignore the creators' planet/population rescue mandate. instead of newclear power, you could very well aggress/propel yourselves backwards to the point of scratching memos on the walls of your collapsing bunkers.

Re:pateNTdead eyecon0meter kode voted mostly user (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424257)

I hope you get cancer tomorrow, you lameass piece of shit.

doesn't like giveaway programs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424405)

yikes. kindest regards accepted.

mynuts won: trouble thinking beyond fear/hate/ego

Smarter robotic blocks (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424135)

What if they make the blocks smarter by building a display on the top-surface, wheels on the bottom, and a processor inside? The block-top interface could display additional information. The table could automatically move the blocks into an pre-designed configuration (or adjust the configuration to match user-initiated movements of some other blocks). The wheeled mechanism could provide haptic-feedback as the user moves the blocks along the table. Distributed processing among the wirelessly networked blocks could help sense what the user is doing.

Audiopad (3, Informative)

LeoDV (653216) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424142)

A concept like this one has already been explored at MIT [mit.edu] with the Audiopad [mit.edu] (Google Cache [216.239.59.104] ), used to make music but really could be used as a new, innovative kind of interface.

What I'm waiting for is for someone to combine that Linux HD of the PS2 and the EyeToy into a Minority Report type interface.

Re:Audiopad (1)

Jesrad (716567) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424187)

The demonstration video in the article shows Audiopad, among other things. It is the very same MIT people that are working on AudioPad and the SenseTable.

Re:Audiopad (1)

merger (235225) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424194)

This is actually the same thing developed by the James Pattern and Ben Recht [mit.edu] . I was just on the site a couple of days ago looking at it for an MIS class. This page however is the first time that I have seen some of the other unique applications such as the sandscape.

Now earlier in the comments fireboy1919 that it wouldn't work because people are unwilling to learn a new interface in addition to the ones they are already good at. I think for it to be successful it depends on the application of they system and playing off of its core competencies which are the ability to track more than one object on the surface at a time and the ability to take on any shape and size by adding more units to the interface. So where it becomes useful is in a group situation where many people can interact with the objects at the same time and they are not limited to the size of a monitor. In the audio example it is like a mixing board but what makes it special is that every object has a contextual menu and can change to the users needs.

Re:Audiopad (1)

Ryne (78636) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424196)

eh, did you read the article? Your link is to the same project as in the article...

Re:Audiopad (1)

LeoDV (653216) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424199)

Arg, my mistake. Well, to my defense the article is slashdotted.

Audiopad / Minority Report (1)

raisin (30710) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424397)

re: the parent comment.. the audiopad is also done by james patten. so it was him that "already explored" it.

the reason this work looks like the table in minority report is because john underkoffler, a former member of the same group at the media lab, was science & technology advisor for minority report and designed/spec'd/envisioned/whatever some of the devices used in the film. some of john's research on which that table was based:
http://tangible.media.mit.edu/projects/Lum inous_Ro om/Luminous_Room.html
john was also behind some of the other interfaces in the movie like the gloves and the way in which the holographic video worked.

Is it any more tangible... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424151)

...than this movement-sensitive plastic block I have on my desk right now. It actually responds to the physical movements of my hand and includes pressure-sensitive areas that allow me to interact with virtual desktop metaphors. I can actually move this device over the virtual mp3 player on my desktop and apply pressure to one of the sensitive areas to change to volume.

Re:Is it any more tangible... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424684)

Strange. I tried what you're describing, I moved the thing over the monitor to the iTunes window and pressed it on the volume control but it didn't work. That, and I can't see the screen behind the plastic block thing, that's most unpractical.

Uhhh (1)

bruthasj (175228) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424152)

I thought my keyboard was already pretty tangible, but I just came out of watching Revolutions ... so, my brain hurts now. Maybe I'm still trying to connect what the "pinching" had to do with anything in that movie. Maybe nothing's real! It's all an intangible mess of connectors to something unknown, unreal.

Blah! Hogwash!

Exactly the Wrong Direction (4, Interesting)

BinBoy (164798) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424171)

I hate this whole movement. Using computers should become EASIER. Who wants tired arms from searching on the computer or back pain from moving files? I'd prefer to do this stuff with a click of a mouse button.

Re:Exactly the Wrong Direction (1)

skaffen42 (579313) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424278)

Yes. Aparently the lessons of gorilla arm [astrian.net] has been forgotten. Each generation seems set on repeating the mistakes of their predecessors.

RSIs? (1)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424608)

Maybe it would be good for people who can't (or at least) shouldn't use a mouse anymore. I know at least one person that uses a tablet instead of a mouse because of his CTS.

In addition it would certainly be nice to be able to have more than one focus point on your screen- especially in real time programs like audio and video production (even in non-realtime app, like if you've ever played with Reason you know what I mean). There's also something to be said for increased precision when you don't have to hold down the mouse button.

All in all I think it's best that we not shoot down new ideas simply for being new and different. If we always did that we'd never get anything done.

Tangible is not the right word.. (4, Funny)

wfberg (24378) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424180)

I think "loseable" would be a better one.. I can't even find the remote control for my TV most of the time (and I have 3 RCs); it would be a BAD idea to have all sorts of controls that do different things and contain state information.. Can you imagine losing the volume knob?

Re:Tangible is not the right word.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424195)

Or maybe you can call them "expendable", since they're just plastic or wood blocks.

Re:Tangible is not the right word.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424267)

" I think "loseable" would be a better one.. I can't even find the remote control for my TV most of the time (and I have 3 RCs); it would be a BAD idea to have all sorts of controls that do different things and contain state information.. Can you imagine losing the volume knob? "

Great. So your tendancy towards forgetfullness is a reason why I cant have this technology? Thanks buddy :/

Voice recognition vs. keyboards (2, Insightful)

LeoDV (653216) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424192)

Even when the technology is perfected to Star Trek standards i.e. you don't even need to think about articulating to make yourself understood by the computer, keyboards will remain the preferred input method of many, including me, simply because it's the fastest. I haven't ever "learned" to type but I average around 100 WPM and peak at 120, without a DVORAK keyboard. I'll rather use that to jolt down an idea, write a letter, program or post at Slashdot than voice recognition.

Re:Voice recognition vs. keyboards (1)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424225)

An average person speaks at about 100-150 words a minute, without much effort. An old lecturer of mine was once clocked at 250wpm while giving evidence as a scientific adviser (boy did you have to pay attention in his lectures!).
So a person with no training at all, given perfect voice recognition, could dictate faster than you could type after (presumably) a lot of typing practice.

Re:Voice recognition vs. keyboards (1)

tcas (691110) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424711)

Your comment says it all. You don't write I haven't even learned to type without quote marks, because that's not true. The truth is that you have learned to type, albeit informally.

You, perhaps, are sure that a keyboard will be the most efficient input device you can ever hope to use. But I fail to see how that relates to the possibility of a more intuitive interface for future generations.

You guys are all FAGS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424204)

This place is screaming homosexuality. With all the 'cowboy' references ("Cowboineel", "Slow down, Cowboy!", etc) I feel like I'm in a locker room with a large group of latent homosexuals. If I even so much as lean over I'd have 4 or 5 of them looking at my ass and wanting to tear it apart.

Seriously. Why don't you just rename the site 'Asscock' or drop the whole 'nerd' thing and come out of the closet. You're not fooling anyone.

What does Doug think? (3, Informative)

bluethundr (562578) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424219)

This work reminds me of the work that Douglas Englebart [stanford.edu] was doing in the 1960s. And while I think this new interface work is great and needed I also believe that the biggest impediment to adopting new methods are cultural ones. While you could (and should) say that the delay in adoption of Englebart's ideas (windowing systems, a mouse for input) was the technical challenge of bringing these methods to home computing mahcines, you can't forget that cultural forces were also at work slowing down people's acceptance of the GUI.

But a more dramatic example of the slowness of cultural change is the fact that I am typing this on a QWERTY keyboard. Dvorak [mwbrooks.com] has been around for years but still we type on devices that show their Victorian age heritage. Even when there is no need at all for the random shuffling of the alphabet across the current keyboard in the way we use it!

Another fine example is the red-headed stepchild of the Englebart revolution; the BAT [nanopac.com] keyboard. The BAT is supposedly easier to learn to use (I've never tried it myself) than a regular keyoard and is also supposedly more ergonomic than a keyboard, as well. It is aslo easier on the joints (or so they say). Now it's mostly sold for people who have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other injuries/disabilities. But it was originally thought to be a better method for input for everyone (injured/disabled or not) to use.

Englebart was right about most things (which were later refined by others into the form in which we now recognize them), but the BAT just never caught on. Too different, probably, from what people had already been using for over a century.

Re:What does Doug think? (2, Interesting)

skaffen42 (579313) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424335)

But a more dramatic example of the slowness of cultural change is the fact that I am typing this on a QWERTY keyboard. Dvorak [mwbrooks.com] has been around for years but still we type on devices that show their Victorian age heritage. Even when there is no need at all for the random shuffling of the alphabet across the current keyboard in the way we use it!

You know that this is all a myth, don't you? It is one of those "geek myths" people keep on repeating to each other without really bothering to check the facts.

I know, I used to do tell this story as well. Then I read [utdallas.edu] a bit more about it and realized that there was a bit more to the story than I thought.

Straightdope [straightdope.com] summarizes it well: "(1) the research demonstrating the superiority of the Dvorak keyboard is sparse and methodologically suspect; (2) a sizable body of work suggests that in fact the Dvorak offers little practical advantage over the QWERTY; (3) at least one study indicates that placing commonly used keys far apart, as with the QWERTY, actually speeds typing, since you frequently alternate hands; and (4) the QWERTY keyboard did not become a standard overnight but beat out several competing keyboards over a period of years. Thus it may be fairly said to represent the considered choice of the marketplace."

titsss ! (0)

KingRamsis (595828) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424265)

so I can finally sequeze those tits on p0rn sites !! this is very noble I will cry a river.

"The MIT Media Lab" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424266)

I've just finished reading that (quite old) book. The book describes MIT media lab as a very special place where lots of cool stuff was going on (ideas/researchers/etc). Is MIT media lab still a special place or just another research lab doing some rather boring and not very innovative stuff?

Lemme get this straight (1)

Blitzshlag (685207) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424273)

So instead of moving my mouse to the volume bar and dragging it, then moving it up to a menu and scrolling down the menu, all with the same motions and buttons ... I have to lift something up, move it across my desk, and manipulate it in different ways depending on what i'm doing?

This sounds like something they may have invented before the mouse. Maybe back in the day it was a bunch of blocks all over your desk that you had to move, then eventually they all got consolidated into one universal interface device, the mouse.

Step in the wrong direction if you ask me.

Feature request. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424296)

I want a lickable interface. And a big button that, when pressed, releases sharks with head-mounted lasers.

Sorry. I wish I had something to contribute to this discussion, but I don't.

Defense of tangible interfaces (5, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424304)

I can understand why some people are appalled by tangible interface concepts. These are the same people that refered to GUIs as WIMPs (Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pointers). For some people, a command line, keyboard-coded interface just works. But it is not the best interface for everyone or every application.

1) Media creation: Who still creates CAD drawings with a keyboard only? I used some early versions of Autocad that where keyboard-only -- they sucked. Sometimes a tangible pointer with a 1-to-1 interface mapping between a 2-D surface and the screen is superior. For artists, the use of an LCD graphics pad and pressure-sensitive stylus means much higher productivity and finer control. (I've even scene academic research suggesting that a two-mouse interface could improve productivity.)

2) Mapping to the Realworld: Go aboard an aircraft carrier and look at how they keep track of flight-deck operations. A miniature replica of the flight deck and miniature aircraft provide an intuitive 1-to-1 mapping between the model and the real-world. I'd bet that they could improve flight deck operations if those little aircraft moved automatically to reflect actual locations and if manual movements of aircraft spawned automatic commands to flight deck personel.

3) Multiuser interfaces: the demos of MIT's system that I have seen (a business-oriented supply chain visualization tool) leverage the table interface for multi-user applications. With the table, anyone around it can reach over and move a block. And everyone can easily see who moved the block.

The power of tangible interfaces is that they can help create a more literal mapping between a digital artifact and the real-world. Sometimes less abstraction leads to better ease-of-use.

Re:Defense of tangible interfaces (1)

iantri (687643) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424353)

1) Media creation: Who still creates CAD drawings with a keyboard only? I used some early versions of Autocad that where keyboard-only -- they sucked. Sometimes a tangible pointer with a 1-to-1 interface mapping between a 2-D surface and the screen is superior.
I don't know.. when you are doing CAD, don't you need accuracy? Is it really easier to hit just the right pixel, or type (35,25)?

DISCLAIMER: I don't do CAD, don't really know anything about it.

Fascination with voice recognition, what gives? (2, Insightful)

Doomdark (136619) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424307)

So far it only lacks a device for text input, like a keyboard, but maybe voice recognition will replace it?"

I'm certainly not the first poster to comment on this, but I just don't understand why many assume voice input would be the preferred method? That it'd even be better than physical controls (be that keyboard, mouse, switches, joystick, whatever). There's enough aural noise in the environment, even without more; accidental commands, specificity, technical things... And except for niches where it does make sense (if one can not use his/her hands or even legs), there just doesn't seem to be much beyond 'coolness factor'? Just like you can get carpal tunnel syndrome, your throat can go sore etc.; there are no health benefits; people can generally point/click/type faster than talk; GUIs are multi-dimensional (2 currently), speech generally single-dimensional, so there's one less way to distinguish what was the target (ie. no location information)... and so on and on.

Now as to Star Trek and other sci-fi movies (including Minority Report), isn't it fairly obvious why voice input was/is used? It's the easy way to indicate what a character is inputting, and what are the results! Even if it wasn't for futuristic touch, it's so much better for needs of movies and tv series than, say, keyboard input (keyboard and mouse are only shown when realism is needed). Directors are in general experienced and smart professionals, and know that voice input is a very good solution for THEIR problems. Just like even though there hasn't been the need to stay on call for tracing to work for decades now, they still always imply it is, in crime series, just because that's a cheap (albeit unrealistic) trick to add some suspense to plot. Just don't assume they are prophets that show what future will be; just what works for them.

Re:Fascination with voice recognition, what gives? (1)

Jesus 2.0 (701858) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424420)

Now as to Star Trek and other sci-fi movies (including Minority Report), isn't it fairly obvious why voice input was/is used? It's the easy way to indicate what a character is inputting, and what are the results!

At least four times an episode, some red shirt sitting at his little desk on the bridge thinks to himself, "Goddammit, Kirk, use your damn keyboard already."

We've seen this before... (2, Insightful)

brain159 (113897) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424338)

At a glance, this sounds very much like the underlying interface stuff behind the Audiopad project (also from MIT, IIRC) - smart pucks moved around a projected image on the sensing surface. There were a few pucks which controlled various musical loops and one which acted as the microphone (the closer a loop was to the mic puck, the louder it played).

Not that I'm doing anything down - my guess is they're now making more general use of the stuff they'd developed for Audiopad, or Audiopad was just the first application they'd come up with, or something along those lines. Nice to see the technology back again actually, I've got a video of Audiopad and it's pretty cool.

seen it before... (0)

FzZzT (112147) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424344)

...when it was used by the Asgard on Stargate SG-1

does it mean (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424352)

i will really be touching those hot cybergirls? ^^

An intangible interface for computers (1)

Entropy248 (588290) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424362)

I really want an intangible interface for computers! Holographics everywhere responding to my voice and movements. A virutal symphony of light, color, and sound as I dance gracefully throughout the room twirling in a ballet of control. Fucking MS Office 2012 sucks now. And that was just to make the text bold...

wooow it's ./ed!!! (1)

fiiz (263633) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424381)

Hey,

slashdot managed an MIT web server! (the media lab's) That's not too bad for a saturday.

( the qt movi was embedded in the page, all 5MB of it...)

f

Another Interesting point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424392)

Over half of computer users these days use them at some point to play games, and a good portion of those people play 3D games, oftentimes with a microphone to enhance gameplay.
How are you supposed to control movement, enter text into the chat, and use voice communication all with just your voice?
Personally, I haven't learned how to say three different things at once. But it may be interesting to try.

Yet another unimpressed reader (1)

kidterra (259392) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424419)

*yawn* wow, you mean i can control stuff by moving my hands, and making gestures? and all i need is some holographic projection mechanism, a darkened room, and tons of space?

this is nothing that hasn't been done with touchscreens. this just takes wear and tear out of the equation.

Stargate SG-1 (1)

Drathos (1092) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424425)

The concept makes me think of the controls the Asgard have on their ships. Placing/moving the "stones" can have all sorts of different effects.

Neato (1, Funny)

Jesus 2.0 (701858) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424440)

This project aims at conceiving better human-machine interfaces by using the concept of physical objects that the user can manipulate, to represent abstract computer data and commands.

You mean they're going to invent the mouse and the keyboard? Awesome.

Re:Neato (1)

Jesrad (716567) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424715)

I think it's the other way around: instead of bringing an avatar of your hand into the abstract representation in the computer's screen (mouse pointer), it's the computer's data that will have avatars in your world.

Also a "tangible" input device: Touchstream kbd (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424496)

I am typing this on a Touchstream keyboard (by Fingerworks [fingerworks.com] )--essentially a glide-pad, like on your average laptop, but keyboard-sized and with letters printed on. It's very interesting to use, and I've concluded that I'll stick to it ... bit weird to have a keyboard without any keys at first :) but you get used to it.

It's definitely very cool to move the text cursor around, directly linked to the movement of your left index + middle finger (seemingly), and to be able to cut/paste by "picking" text with thumb + index and then "dropping" it :)

Definitely an interesting piece of technology. I can recommend that keyboard, it's worth a try for any geek.

Btw, this was already featured twice: /. story 1 [slashdot.org] , /. story 2 [slashdot.org] .

Minority Report / TMG Connection (4, Informative)

spellcheckur (253528) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424517)

It's not surprising this looks like Minority Report [imdb.com] .

John Underkoffler [mit.edu] is a former member of the Tangible Media Group, and was the science advisor [imdb.com] on the film.

Re:Minority Report / TMG Connection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424560)

but the interface in Minority report was on a glass and in the air..right? that is not very tangible to me!!

Beware geeks designing interfaces.. (2, Insightful)

adrianbaugh (696007) | more than 10 years ago | (#7424556)

Just look what they did to emacs :-O
Seriously, while this probably has niche applications (previous posters have mentioned a few that sound plausible) I don't see that it offers much to the conventional desktop user (a keyboard and mouse require much less movement than the shenanigans Tom Cruise got up to in the movie and, other than keeping office workers fit, these interfaces will just lower productivity).
So what about wearable computers? Something you wear on your belt with a head-mounted display, designed to be used while walking along? Well, to me it doesn't make much sense in this context either: again, if you end up requiring much odd movement on the user's part it won't work. In my opinion the future is far more likely to look like a next-generation of Canon's eye-controlled (pupil-tracking) autofocus system to control a pointer on some head-mounted display coupled with (in the short term) an interface that minimizes the need for text input together with some kind of finger-based character input device[0] or (longer term) speech recognition of a standard where the software doesn't need training and can cope with background noise[1].

[0] There was one mentioned on slashdot ages ago that looked a bit like a gripmaster (key for each finger plus the thumb), and text was typed by entering chords.
[1] Incidentally, how much research has been done on using stereo input to speech recognition programs to reduce background noise? I would have thought that would help quite a lot, albeit at the expense of CPU time.

What happens... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7424695)

...when there's a small earthquake in your area, and those things bobble across the surface triggering all sorts of weird shit across countless computers..
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