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Cutting Edge Computer Interfaces?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the beyond-the-kmp-paradigm dept.

GUI 106

Senate Staffer asks: "I am doing some research for U.S. Senator on technology advancements, specifically in the field of computer interfaces. Human-Computer interface tools have not changed for quite some time. The keyboard was grandfathered from the type-writer, and although there have been advancements (ergonomic designs, different key layouts, even different shapes), the basic function has not changed. The mouse was a major new advancement for computers, and again, although there have been advancements (track-balls, optical mice, trackpads, etc) the function has remained the same. What cutting edge technologies are being researched today and where? What technologies are currently available to consumers, and what technologies are on the horizon?"

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Tax Dollars At Work? (2, Funny)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | more than 9 years ago | (#11508475)

THIS is how our legislators get info? Through Ask /.?

Re:Tax Dollars At Work? (5, Insightful)

Requiem Aristos (152789) | more than 9 years ago | (#11508549)

All things considered this is one of the better ways for them to do it. Otherwise, they'd just be hearing from industry lobbyists (and we all know how forthright they can be).

Re:Tax Dollars At Work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11508981)

Wheres mod points, you are correct.

OP: Answers - from fiction to fact (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 9 years ago | (#11514287)

Original poster - if you want some honest insight into where we are headed (or should be headed) : look to fiction. I recommend the following works in order to give a good recommendation as to where the dollars could be best invested for a brighter tomorrow :

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. It pays particular attention to the user interface of tomorrow, and the dangers of letting one entity own all the bandwidth (and the dangers of off-shoring.)
Neuromancer by William Gibson. He invented the phrase 'Cyberspace' in this book. He offers up a strong vision of next generation user interface.
Johnny Mnemonic, movie based on a story by William Gibson. Offers up a strong vision of next generation user interfaces including a fiber optic plug in the back of your skull. Some material shared with Neuromancer, a nice visual representation.
The first Matrix movie. Watch it again.
The Sixth Day, movie with Arnold, came out 5 years ago. In particular pay attention to the holographic woman generator (get me one of those.)

If you wonder if fiction really drives reality - it doesn't. It does a pretty good job of predicting the future reality, however, as we can see from Dick Tracy (watch / communicators), Asimov's writings about robots, and Batman (nerds with incredible computer rigs in their basement (decorated to look like a 'cave'), sitting at the computer in their underware.)

Re:Tax Dollars At Work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11514367)

All things considered this is one of the better ways for them to do it.

I agree. All Things Considered [] is a damn fine radio program .

Re:Tax Dollars At Work? (4, Insightful)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 9 years ago | (#11508896)

Wouldnt asking Slashdot the largest geek forum better than paying a bunch of college kids making phone calls blindly from the phone book?

You want to know what the people are thinking, you goto the people. Slashdot would have a very large userbase of tech users, good place to ask Slashdot.

I heard a statement that I think came from Charles E. Merrill, that he use to walk around the mall to see what people bought, so he knew what to invest in. You goto the people buying and using the product to get information.

Is Slashdot a bad place to ask these questions, no. Its not only a news forum, its a discussion forum, always has been. Its not just News for nerds, its a open forum to discuss these things.

Tax Dollars At Work?-HCI:Usenet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11510640)

"Wouldnt asking Slashdot the largest geek forum better than paying a bunch of college kids making phone calls blindly from the phone book?"

And yet both of you leave out the obvious. The HCI forums on Usenet. When I wanted to know about Lisp. I went to a Lisp forum. When I wanted to know about Smalltalk. I went to the Smalltalk forum. When you want to know something about HCI. You go to...

Re:Tax Dollars At Work?-HCI:Usenet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11514337)

me too
> Me Too
> > ME TOO
> > > Yea me too
> > > > Me also
> > > > > me too
> > > > > > me too
> > > > > > > me too
> > > > > > > > Please send me info on Lisp, Smalltalk, and HCI ...

Re:Tax Dollars At Work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11512047)

You can tell old-school programmers, because we all write go to as goto.

Re:Tax Dollars At Work? (1)

zero_offset (200586) | more than 9 years ago | (#11527357)

No, we write "go to" as JMP.

Re:Tax Dollars At Work? (1)

smatthew (41563) | more than 9 years ago | (#11512965)

Any survey where people are allowed to choose to respond is inherintly flawed. "Self-Selection" changes a neutral survey into a skewed set of results. Therefore any sort of survey you ever see on a website is not accurate.


Well... Since you've got your foot in the door, (2, Interesting)

josh3736 (745265) | more than 9 years ago | (#11522687)

why not let the Senator know that the people he's supposedly representing think copyright has gotten out of hand and software patents exist only to serve as corporate welfare.

There's tax dollars well-spent asking Slashdot.

Since you've got your foot in the door-do my job. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11524366)

"why not let the Senator know that the people he's supposedly representing think copyright has gotten out of hand and software patents exist only to serve as corporate welfare."

That's your job. Or did you forget what citizens are suppose to do in a democracy?

Which? (2, Insightful)

christopherfinke (608750) | more than 9 years ago | (#11508489)

I am doing some research for U.S. Senator
Is this a specific senator or just the Senate in general? And if it's a specific one, I'd enjoy knowing which senator is funding technological research?

That's his Nick. (1)

Dr. Weird (566938) | more than 9 years ago | (#11509124)

It's Senate Staffer's friend's Slashdot nick.

Two words. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11508504)

Virtual orgasm.

These people... (4, Informative)

One Div Zero (851169) | more than 9 years ago | (#11508513)

These people have always been at the forefront of HCI design...

Xerox PARC laboratory projects []
Some more projects []

Re:These people... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11508644)

XPARC, Pfft. We all know that Microsoft is the leader in research toward making our lives easier. It's really a shame they're primarily relying on the trial & error & error & bsod & error method though.

Re:These people... (2, Funny)

T-Ranger (10520) | more than 9 years ago | (#11510563)

You might as well cut out the middleman and wait and see what Jobs will be up to in 5 years.

Re:These people... (3, Informative)

LordMyren (15499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11514869)

they're not the middlemen genius, they're the source. jobs is the middleman hawking xerox's warez to the public. no amount of mac idolary will wipe away that fact, not that jobs was the only one.

Re:These people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11530635)

...yeah, going on 25 years ago. I think they've innovated a bit since they originally got the GUI idea. C'mon. Thank goodness someone used the idea. Wasn't PARC going to sit on it?

Re:These people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11517312)

Wow. Their Sparrow Web project is charging people money for a wiki. (Google search finds a page claiming that "they are different, the difference is that sparrow only lets people edit certain PARTS of the page" ... trivial!)

Haptics (4, Interesting)

FlipmodePlaya (719010) | more than 9 years ago | (#11508583)

I'm not well versed on it, but check Wikipedia for information on haptics [] . I remember seeing a pen-like control device at the SIGGRAPH conference this year, that would track your movements with it in 3D space. Combined with force feedback, they described future implementations of this as incredible tools for surgeons, which I suppose it could be. Fun for 3D desktops and games, too.

Voice, Eye Tracking, and Handwriting (4, Interesting)

jgardn (539054) | more than 9 years ago | (#11508591)

For the blind, voice recognition and synthesis is becoming more and more advanced. I imagine a (near) future day when more and more non-blind people will interact with their voice and ears.

I'd also look into all the research that has been done in various disorders and disabilities that have to do with viewing, hearing, typing, and moving a mouse. Some of these things have made it into mainstream use. For instance, the research done to make colors more visible to the colorblind has affected how (professional) people design websites nowadays.

Take for instance what has been done for those people mostly paralyzed or incapable of controlling their extremities. We have technology to track ones eyes. One day, we won't have to use mice to control a cursor or select things. Just look and blink.

Combine this with voice recognition, we'll be able to look at a text form widget, and say the words to fill in, then blink to hit "submit".

One other system that is important is handwriting and OCR. Being able to write in boxes in a paper form and then scan that image in, having the computer read the form, is a breakthrough. It isn't being used much yet, but I think it is going to be used more and more.

I strongly believe that in the future, we'll have to understand computers less and less because they will understand us more and more. The pinnacle of computing is when we will relate to computers the same way people relate to each other. When they understand every nuance, every motion, every word, and even the intonation, then we will have made a computer that no one has to understand to use.

Re:Voice, Eye Tracking, and Handwriting (1)

StiLTs (7616) | more than 9 years ago | (#11509819)

What you want is called a Mentat [] . It understands people very well and relates to them as people relate to each other. It understands nuance, motion, word, and intonation, and the interface is immediately accessible to anyone. The pinnacle of computing without "computers".

Re:Voice, Eye Tracking, and Handwriting (2, Interesting)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 9 years ago | (#11509975)

I already use MacOS' text-to-speech code with AOL Instant Messenger to have my computer speak IMs to me out-loud as I recieve them, and it's extremely handy. Unfortunately, even though Windows XP includes text-to-speech code, there's no way to get the Windows version of AIM to do the same thing-- and there's no other IM client that uses text-to-speech.

What we really need is the *developers* to install some of these new interface ideas into their programs, as AOL did with AIM, and then we'll see how people figure out how to use them.

(Many MacOS text editors also allow you to use text-to-speech to read your documents out loud... this is a great way of finding typos and grammar mistakes.)

Re:Voice, Eye Tracking, and Handwriting (1)

BlaKmaJiK_ (101711) | more than 9 years ago | (#11516328)

Offtopic, but Trillian has a text-to-speech plugin that will do what you are looking for, over any of Trillian's protocols (MSN/AIM/Y!/ICQ/IRC/Jabber/Rendevouz)

Re:Voice, Eye Tracking, and Handwriting (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 9 years ago | (#11521025)

Too bad Trillian's interface is a huge unusable mess of shit, glossed over by more shit in the guise of 'skins'. No thanks.

Re:Voice, Eye Tracking, and Handwriting (1)

after fallout (732762) | more than 9 years ago | (#11525605)

ouch! What is so wrong with trillian's interface. I would say it is one of my favorite programs.

Re:Voice, Eye Tracking, and Handwriting (1)

sleepingsquirrel (587025) | more than 9 years ago | (#11529922)

Dasher [] is a pretty interesting new way to interact with text. (In fact I wrote this note with Dasher.)
Dasher is an information-efficient text-entry interface, driven by natural continuous pointing gestures. Dasher is a competitive text-entry system wherever a full-size keyboard cannot be used.
But you really have to see it in action to understand what it is and how it works.

Gesture interfaces (3, Interesting)

mercuryresearch (680293) | more than 9 years ago | (#11508594)

You mentioned trackpads, but the stuff from fingerworks [] goes a bit beyond this and supports a gesturing interface. I've used one for about a year and bought several as backups (the thing is incredibly durable) just because I know I'll never be able to live without it again.

I also recall a demo -- sorry, no link -- that used webcam-style cameras to watch eye movements and use that as part of the active window selection process. There was another demo at Intel Developer Forum last year that did something similar, but turned off a notebook's display when you weren't looking at it to save power.

Re:Gesture interfaces - Finderworks (1)

JPyObjC Dude (772176) | more than 9 years ago | (#11511176)

Looked at those Finderworks products and they look sweet. A little expensive but the gesturing interface is not only intuitive.

[q] How is the feel of the keyboard though? Is the keyboard textured in any way so you can feel where home row is or do you have to look down to find home?

Cool with the Mac Laptop keyboard replacement too.

Re:Gesture interfaces - Fingerworks (1)

JPyObjC Dude (772176) | more than 9 years ago | (#11511204)

Doooh! - Tydo... er ...Typo

Re:Gesture interfaces - Finderworks (1)

mercuryresearch (680293) | more than 9 years ago | (#11511621)

I have several of the iGesture pads, and love them. I got the keyboard, but frankly it was too far of a stretch for me. I supposed I would have gotten used to it if I'd given it more time -- others have raved about the keyboard as well -- but it's simply a flat lexan surface with a tiny bump on two letters on the home row. There's a very slight roughness to it so that's it's not glass smooth, but that's it.

The problem I had with the keyboard primarily is that I have pretty lazy fingers, and if you don't touch the surface correctly -- that is, if you rest one or two fingers on it -- the keyboard interprets this as typing. It's a zero-pressure interface, and if fact it works best with the lightest of touches. I'm sure with more training it'd get there. The keyboard has a much larger gesture library on it.

It's also somewhat large (I use a happy hacking keyboard along with the iGesture as my primary interface, so everything else is huge in comparison.)

Both the keyboard and the pad can have additional gestures added to them, if you wish. I primarily use the pad for navigating very large spreadsheets and editing text files, and it's makes it a breeze as two fingers it behaves as a mouse, and one finger it sends arrow keystrokes; this feature alone sold me on it.

Re:Gesture interfaces - Finderworks (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 9 years ago | (#11522475)

I have a Fingerworks keyboard I'm typing this with right now and I love it. If this thing ever breaks I'll buy a new one the same day. I spend a lot of time at my computer, like many of us, and I realized right away that three hundred bucks was a triviality when compared to the utility of this keyboard. It is well worth the money.

The only thing that is difficult about this keyboard is -- and this will sound strange -- typing. Everything else is easy. "Everything else" means the gestures, I guess: the keyboard comes with a vast and well-designed set of pre-programed gestures and alternate key meanings to make OS control easy. I also customized mine with some special gestures to bring up other UI enhancements I have added to my computer, making using my computer very much easier than it was out of the box.

Typing is hard to get used to. First of all, the buttons aren't aligned like a regular keyboard and that takes getting used to. Well, maybe I should say misaligned: regular keyboards are really hard for me to use now -- why do they put the keys all offset like that? Anyway, it is hard to hit every key correctly on this keyboard at first but my typing speed is as fast or maybe faster as before on regular keyboards. I've had this Fingerworks keyboard for a few months now. It is extremely low impact and, surprisingly, I don't miss the 'clickiness' of a regular keyboard at all (as I thought I would).

Mmmm -- also: My wrists hurt before I bought this keyboard and they don't anymore. And something that isn't clear from the website is that the keyboard is very pleasantly small. It fits square on a lap and isn't lopsided. Having the delete key under my left thumb is AWESOME -- all keyboards should be like that. Oh, yes, there are little dots on the home row to feel the home row and keep your hands aligned. I think the keyboard would benefit from vey slight indentations in the center of the keys so that I could get constant tactile a feedback when typing, but really I'm used to it.

It's a good product. Buy it. I say that without reserve.

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11508621)

I have a lot of trouble believing that this is real. Come on. Why exactly would a Senator care about something as mundane as I/O, instead of P2P or something that is actually a hot topic right now?

Dear Slashdot (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11508625)

I've lied about my qualifications to get a job, and now I'm in way over my head.

Please bail me out.

Attach wires to your brains (1)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 9 years ago | (#11508638)

Does anyone have the link to the cell that had sensors attached to it, and it was flying a flight simulator?

Yes, I have the link (1)

Nomihn0 (739701) | more than 9 years ago | (#11517173)

I keep that link [] by my bedside at all times. Funny that you think I'm joking. I honestly do.

HCI (3, Insightful)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 9 years ago | (#11508675)

Okay, so you have your keyboard interface. This is always undergoing some modification, sometimes radical, most times less so. The standard QWERTY layout vs Dvorak, of course, but then you have your ergonomic vs straight layout argument, as well as chording keyboards, keyboards drawn with light, keyboards that can fold up, keyboards with decent keys (Hello, Model M, I love you!), etc.

You gotcher mouse, trackball, and mutant variations and combinations thereof, including tablets. Add force feedback and stir, where appropriate (slow down the mouse over window controls, etc.). Oh yeah, don't forget the whole wireless vs wired argument, plus security or lack thereof implied therein.

You gotcher touchscreens (icky), and yer voice command, and then, we come at last to voice recognition and haptic interfaces.

The thing is, humans have a limited number of ways to enter information, and depending on the nature of the information, it's going to probably have to come down to keyboards or voice recognition (or handwriting recognition) for _entering_ information.

For _manipulating_ information, you have a lot more choices, but doing so efficiently depends heavily on the nature of the information being manupulated. If you're editing a video, the appropriate efficient interface is probably going to be vastly different from that of editing plain text. And there's always going to be a personal preference entering the equation (e.g. some prefer trackballs over mice, some prefer pen & tablet over either).

I don't want an interface that uses scent or taste, thanks. :)

Re:HCI (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 9 years ago | (#11509727)

Editing Video. oh the matrix interface. Now that's how you edit images, and video content. With standard keyboards for text.

A much better way to edit images. Of course digital creation techinques, will have to be adjusted. New toys. yea baby.

Well.. (4, Interesting)

captnitro (160231) | more than 9 years ago | (#11508730)

There aren't a whole lot that come to mind, and I think that's the problem.

Somebody once said, though I can't remember the book, that a word processor did most of the same things it does now, twenty years ago, except that now we have rounded corners. The illustration is vague, but it serves to point out that there haven't been huge breakthroughs in the way we work, despite incredibly advanced technologies sitting on our doorstep. Whether this is good or bad, make your own call.

I, personally, think there are better solutions to things like top-screen menus, and file management. The number one question I get asked about in various levels of IT support is what damn function is in what damn menu. It's hard for many people to remember which functions belong to which menus, especially because we have so many menus that give no clue to the functions they hold -- e.g., File->Exit is a holdover from the days when you couldn't open more than one document. Similarly, Edit->Preferences is a good guess, except that most people associate Edit with file content, not program-level preferences, especially when there's often another menu under Tools for different options.

There's got to be a better way, said some guy, hopefully soon.

I always find it interesting that if we had taken any modern system back to 1985, the interface features that would be most ooed at would be the eyecandy, but not the productivity of the interface, since that's largely stayed the same. We still use a point and click interface for everything, and we still hold the contents of our programs in a computer-oriented interface, not a human-oriented interface -- the window. Clever solutions exist for rebottling some of these problems, e.g., scroll wheels on mice, different keyboards and input devices, and Expose, but it's still a situation that could be radically different. I'm just not sure how yet.

Many of the technologies we use now are no different than the ones created in the 1970s to solve these problems, but things have changed. An increasing number of novice users, handicapped users, etc., make many of these solutions a little too narrow. E.g., my mother, who is nearly blind and uses a screenreader, has pointed out many problems I would have never thought of as anything but accessibility issues, but they're not -- they're all interface design issues.

Now, I'm not suggesting that we talk to our computers tomorrow and then Hack Teh Gibson with our nintendo powergloves, but many of these interfaces are arcane. I'd like to see more seamless, fluid transition between programs, for example -- I should be able to use the text-editing features of Word when submitting a comment, or I should be able to insert Flash documents into my background art if I own Flash. More modular.

I'm just not sure how to do it yet.

Re:Well.. (2, Insightful)

jhoger (519683) | more than 9 years ago | (#11509305)

I'd say things have gotten worse since the 80's.

For example, a common interface for old laptops (Model 100, 102, 200, 600, NEC 8201A, NEC8300, NEC 8500 etc.) was a main screen which shows a tabular list of say, 30 files and programs. You moved around with the arrow keys and picked what you wanted to work on. When you enter a program it forces you to pick a filename. You never need to "Save," similar to PalmOS.

No subdirectories. If you exit your program, you're back at the simple menu.

If you hit on a text file, guess what... it opens up in the text editor. If you hit enter on a BASIC program, it launches the program in BASIC.

Since there are no subdirectories, all your files are in plain view, so you don't lose them or waste time organizaing them. If you need to group a set of them you saved them to floppies or cassette, and those are easy to keep track of, since they are not abstract, but tangible things. That is intuitively understandable and comfortable for people.

Modern PCs have way too many "modes" and abstractions and ways to lose your information. Sure, if you're organized it is mangageable. But it sure would be better for everyone if the computer did its job and helped you stay organized. And the interface really should be data centric rather than program centric or programmer centric.

And I don't think a desktop full of icons is the way to do it either. You need to have interfaces manageable at a human level. Allowing a desktop with an arbitrarily large number of files is just too much.

By setting limitations, you do reduce possibilities, and flexibility but you also reduce the choices users are required to make, while forcing them into some kind of organization they are capable of dealing with. I like Raskins idea of a "Humane Interface." That should be the goal. I don't think he has "got it" personally, but it's the proper goal.

Re:Well.. (2, Interesting)

captnitro (160231) | more than 9 years ago | (#11509815)

Excellent points, thank you.

Just now, I decided to find how many files where in my home directory. 48,125 in 3,096 folders over about 25 GB, and I have at least four times that amount on other accounts on other machines -- not to mention, none of this is source code, so it's not headers and little text documents cluttering my clusters. And the issue is, hierarchy becomes inefficient very quickly as the number of files increase. The only way I can find anything any more is by searching -- and I suspect this is the way data storage will behave in the future. I'd like to see the lines between data and 'application' blur a little bit (securely), and I'd like to see real computer-aided file management, almost to the point where say, saving and opening a file manually would be silly, and the way programs run alongside one another is more comprehensive. Think, plugins, not applications, I guess, where the "computer" is comprehensive, not a lot of unrelated pieces occasionally communicating.

Even still, I think these problems require a radically new way of thinking about the future of computing. They can't be solved with a new window manager, or a tiny new input device, we have to think about what people will be doing 20 years down the road, and redesign. E.g., the mouse and keyboard are completely useless and space-inefficient at anything but a desk. Speakable commands, maybe, but who knows? I think the next innovations will be something so wildly different it will be both "duh, why didn't we think of this before" and "this looks completely different".

But this is all me hoping I'll get one of those gloves from Minority Report for Christmas next year.

Well..Reinventing the past. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11510019)

"Even still, I think these problems require a radically new way of thinking about the future of computing. They can't be solved with a new window manager, or a tiny new input device, we have to think about what people will be doing 20 years down the road, and redesign. E.g., the mouse and keyboard are completely useless and space-inefficient at anything but a desk. Speakable commands, maybe, but who knows? I think the next innovations will be something so wildly different it will be both "duh, why didn't we think of this before" and "this looks completely different"."

The problem with everyone's WOW! interface is that they fail the litmus test of practicality. [] []

Maybe instead of trying to invent something new. Let's say that we try using what never really saw the light of day.

Re:Well.. (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 9 years ago | (#11510045)

I know everyone's going to consider me the Mac zealot, but what we need is the equilivant of the Macintosh inventors... a close-knit group of really smart and creative people working to create something that is not only unique from everything else out there, but better than everything else out there.

(Ok, ok, arguably they didn't succeed. But some of their ideas were tremendous, the small basic ones, and still haven't been adopted by the PC world. For instance, Macs have a 'Return' key to add a new line of text and an 'Enter' key to send information to the computer. These are two very different and distinct functions, but on PCs, the 'Enter' key does both. The Macintosh way, in this case, just makes more sense.)

But I think the important thing is that it needs to be done from scratch. The Mac creators didn't worry about backwards compatibility, they didn't care if their keyboard was different than everyone else's or if their screen had a pixel size that nobody had seen before, they just did the best work they could with the limitations they were given. And technology like USB and Firewire and Bluetooth and 802.11x would make work like that *easier* today, because there's no reason to re-invent USB.

Anyway, the last people to try this were Be, Inc. And, although their operating system was pretty damned good, they didn't have the business sense to succeed.

Re:Well.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11510352)

Hey, there's no denying the truth -- the File/Quit and Edit/Preferences menu problems have been addressed in Mac OS X, with the issue of an application menu, and a system-level (apple) menu for system stuff. I still consider it a workaround, but I wouldn't have these qualms if I wasn't a Mac dork..

Re:Well.. (1)

macshit (157376) | more than 9 years ago | (#11512680)

For instance, Macs have a 'Return' key to add a new line of text and an 'Enter' key to send information to the computer. These are two very different and distinct functions, but on PCs, the 'Enter' key does both. The Macintosh way, in this case, just makes more sense.

Many keyboards predating the Mac had this feature. For instance, IBM's venerable and widespread 3270 terminal (first introduced in the early '70s!) had both Enter and Return keys. The DEC vt100 also did, although the vt100's enter key was located next to the keypad, not the main area (the 3270 had an Enter key in both places, in addition to the Return key).

Re:Well.. (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 9 years ago | (#11514626)

Interesting. I didn't know that. I wonder why IBM decided to make only a single Enter key instead of adding a Return key for the PC if they'd already had two keys in previous products?

Re:Well.. (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 9 years ago | (#11514454)

In many applications on the PC you can use Enter to send data to the comptuer and Shift-Enter to throw a carriage return in there (ie, a Return key.)

You can also use CTRL S and CTRL Q to send the computer a 'please stop sending me data until further notice (transmit off / XOFF)' and 'resume sending me data (transmit on / XON)', respectively, when the computer is streaming data to you (like in communications software, telnet, terminal emulators, etc.)

Re:Well.. (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 9 years ago | (#11514637)

Of course I realize you can use shift-enter in many applications, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a problem. For instant, in IM software, you're much more likely to need return than enter... (at least, you would be if people typed correctly in IM clients, but because of the whole Enter key thing, most people don't.)

Normal people don't use telnet, terminal emulators, etc so I won't bother replying to that point.

Re:Well.. (1)

fnord_uk (842775) | more than 9 years ago | (#11520367)

I'd like to have a big lever for carriage return, with a bell that sounds when you use it. Would that be possible?

Re:Well.. (2, Interesting)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 9 years ago | (#11514424)

ZTree []

That's the one you are looking for - character based user interface using Win32 API for file manipulation. It is a shareware release of XTreeGold from the early 90's with a cult following dating back to about 1986. It won just about every user interface award known to man until it got dropped in about 1995.

Basically it recursively reads your entire drive (or a subset) and all the directories, gets the file names, sizes, attributes (RASH), dates, and directory structure, presents it in a multi-box character based user interface, and allows you to slice and dice your fileset using filters to only see the files you are interested in, and either walk up and down the tree using the arrow keys, move in and around files in a single directory, or treat branches of the tree (or the entire drive) as if all the files were in a single directory. Originally the program was written as an easy way to copy, delete, view, edit, move files, create and delete directories in the DOS world, but it grew over time into what it is today. One of the best 'side effects' of how it works is heuristic searching for file(s) when you know absolutely nothing firm about what you are looking for, but you would recognise it when you saw it (ie, a file you last edited sometime around Christmas, either a .doc or a .txt file, and it contains the word 'fragment' in the body of the text, and it is somewhere on your hard drive or one of your network drives.

Re:Well.. (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 9 years ago | (#11514759)

I forgot the best part - totally keyboard driven so you aren't swapping back and forth between the keyboard and mouse. 100% of your interaction is at the keyboard so no wasted effort or movement - I have peers at work that joke about it being the 'Matrix' UI because it is only marginally more graphical than the green screens in the movie, and because I can become one with the machine when I am using it.

OP: come up with a single piece of hardware to replace the discrete components 'keyboard' and 'mouse' or figure out a way to let us keep our hands on the keyboard and use something else to control the mouse (body movements, subtle head movements, eye tracking and using thumb buttons below the spacebar for mouse button entry, weight shifting in our chair, jaw-grinding / movements and teeth clicking - something) and we will get an extension on that.

Database filesystems, find data quicker. (4, Interesting)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 9 years ago | (#11508783)

I think with people gathering more data, and data warehousing coming to your house (pics/movies/music/etc). Being able to find your data is the next advance. This is why Microsoft is working on a new file system for longhorn and why Google released a desktop search engine.

As for the GUI, I think its more autocomplete of processes, to reduce manual steps.

The biggest problem I see is forcing interactive moments on a busy user. Nothing is worse in the middle of typing a document and a popup window of some kind, flash in the tool tray until im ready.

And with people multitasking, I dont need a program to tell me its done in the middle of working on something else.

Displaying information while not forcing the user to interact is the next step. We are doing much more than before, multiple programs, multiple tasks, we need to curb the "In your face" attitude of the Gui.

While AI with interactive voice chat would be nice, unless its a virtual lawyer that can answer my questions or a hot stripper, I doubt I'm going to be using voice chat on a operational process.

Voice chat for games is another thing, when your busy, you cant stop to type, talking to the group saves time, and reaction time is quicker.

Of course these are my thoughts and views of current trends. Microsoft research and Cambridge labs are good places to check out. Cambridge ran the research lab that helped oversee VNC and other cool products, under Olivetti and then ATT Labs.

I think there is much more work todo in the modern desktop before we go onto new user input/output methods.

Top hottest things, tabs, info bars, task switching, searching, auto-complete, realtime filtering (spellcheck/etc), history of input, sharing of data with other hard (bluetooth/etc) are IMHO the current impressive new features. And if not new, just easier use or new methods of using the same procedures in a differnt way.

Too bad 2005 isnt going to see many new features, end of year with dual core, new gfx cards, the hardware to take advantage will launch 2006 for new features. But at least with SLI and faster CPUs, this year will be good for gaming until we get there. :)

Re:Database filesystems, find data quicker. (1)

FreeForm Response (218015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11511196)

I actually wrote a research paper on this as an undergraduate at UC Irvine.

I built a bank of LED lights, connected to a Phidgets [] kit board, and wrote a Java interface to monitor web pages and my POP3 inbox. When something changed, the interface software would strobe the light grid instead of popping up a dialog or something. That way, you could be barely conscious of a new event, but it wasn't distracting enough to actually grab your attention unless you were looking for it.

I wish I hadn't had to give the Phidget kit back at the end of the project. =(

Re:Database filesystems, find data quicker. (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 9 years ago | (#11514792)

Thanks for a new favorite in my browser - I will give that one more thought when I get more time to tinker. Having the computer drive material components out side the computer is the first step in making computers more useful in the next evolution.

Any chance your code is out there for us wanna-be's to read in order to jumpstart our play with the Phidgets?

Re:Database filesystems, find data quicker. (1)

FreeForm Response (218015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11516104)

I'll have to ask my advisor if I own the rights to it, since I was working on a project for her. If that's the case, then sure.

The POP3 stuff never did work right, though, so I think I just wound up deleting it. ;-)

Re:Database filesystems, find data quicker. (1)

tigersha (151319) | more than 9 years ago | (#11513809)

Check on that stupid, horrible habit of computers to popup things while you are typing. In particular, if I open a web browser, immediately start typing in the bar and then the friggin thing goes to its home page and changes the URL.

Or another windows pops up and you type your password or something into that. I accidentally IM'ed my root password to someone like that the other day.

One simple solution would be NOT to change the window focus when the user had been typing anything during the last 5 seconds or so. That alone would make my life uch easier. And both Linux and Windows is guilty of this.

Re:Database filesystems, find data quicker. (1)

fnord_uk (842775) | more than 9 years ago | (#11520433)

I had a similar issue when using a laptop with a trackpad...I kept nudging the trackpad with my palm while typing, which caused my text to appear all over the place and resulted in the laptop being punched a number of times in sheer frustration.

Force Feedback / Haptic Devices (2, Interesting)

TheVoice900 (467327) | more than 9 years ago | (#11508798)

Such as these [] . We have some here in the lab at school that I had a chance to play with, really interesting. Applications include training surgeons, 3D modelling, and no doubt many others.

3D visualization (2, Informative)

kinema (630983) | more than 9 years ago | (#11508904)

Companies like SGI [] spend a lot of time and money working on visualization systems [] that allow for multiple people to be immersed in a synthetic 3D world. SGI's Reality Center [] wall [] room [] systems are quite impressive.

Interfaces? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11509072)

You want great advances in computer interfaces? I think this company is definately what you're looking for... []

Cyberdildonics (0, Troll)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11509202)

I think the new interfaces you are looking for are in the exciting (literally) new field of Cyberdildonics [] . Such wonderful new interfaces as the Robosuck, Vibro Mr. Jack, etc.

MOD UP!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11522652)

Read the linked article. That's absolutely hilarious!

Cyberdildonic "boytoys" include Vibro Mr. Jack (a sucking mouth with a mustache) and Vibro Realistic Vagina ("low-maintenance, easy-to-clean and light on the wallet"). Girltoys include the Anal Invader and Deep Stroker II, not to mention the Lotus Collection Rabbit Vibe ("the hit at ladies' lingerie parties"). Internet partners can control speed, intensity and, depending on the device, direction. ... If a "member" is hooked up to a Cyberdildonic device, technically the chathost can provide a cyber handjob. Or vice versa. Which raises the question: Is it prostitution, and in whose jurisdiction, if hooker and john are on different continents?
And it is technically on-topic since this is about human "interface" devices.

Monkeys! (1)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 9 years ago | (#11509452)

Was it slashdot or Wired [or perhaps both!] which had an article regarding preliminary research into direct mental control of computers? I don't remember too well. The actual article was interesting, as the researcher in question [at Duke iirc?] managed to learn/devise something unexpected. They had gotten to the point where the chimp could control a robotic arm via neural implants.

Re:Monkeys! (1)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11513497)

I saw something like this on the Discovery Science channel about a week ago. A man who suffered from a stroke and lost control of his body was able to move a cursor by thinking about it. It took months for him to be able to do this, but it is pretty amazing to see that level of human/computer interaction. It's good to see advances in that area of science that can help those people who are unable to communicate with the outside world.

Re:Monkeys! (1)

gtm256 (848258) | more than 9 years ago | (#11515940)

I think voice recognition and eye tracking are going to cause people to suffer from the same repeditive stress injuries that the keyboard and mouse are inflicting on people today.

When I was younger I didn't really believe in carpel tunnel. I just thought the hypochondriacs were at it again. But ten years of typing and mousing have just killed my wrists. If I bang them funny, my whole wrists will turn numb.

Anyway I suspect that constant blinking and talking are going to cause similar problems. Not only that, I can type faster than I can speak. And I can think a lot faster than I can type.

IMHO the only efficient and ergonomic solution is a neural interface. And aparently its not completely unplausible: [] .

Re:Monkeys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11514841)

Yes, Atari Had created one such device, called the 'Alpha mouse' Basicly you attach it to the back of your neck, and through practice can make the mouse pointer move around. Wasnt extremely efficent, and took a long time to get use to. (I myself in the Atari ST days too about 4 weeks to get use to it, even then i perfered my good old 2button mouse ;)

However, the process of devlopment for using mental waves to control the computer inferface is highly intriguing, but still far off in the future. Think about the history of the mouse for example, was created in the 50s from a cigeratte box, and wasnt in wide-use until the 70s. Perhaps one day soon =)

A few more interfaces (2, Interesting)

cybergremlin (136962) | more than 9 years ago | (#11510138)

Aside from the listing in the original article there are a few more

Several posts have listed voice recognition and speech synthesis. This is great for the blind, disabled, or those of us with carpel tunnel and eye strain. Combined with translation software it can provide a great advantage to communications, and even has military applications. Google "Phraselator". Troops use it to translate a limited number of phrases into Arabic or whatever. Definitely a field where better software and more computing power could make a difference.

Gesture is another input interface where you don't need to be tied to a keyboard. The Sony Eye Toy is a crude version of this. Advances in machine vision are needed to move this foreword. Existing "VR glove" versions are unlikely to break into the main stream.

Biofeedback is an interesting case. The idea of manipulating a device just by "thinking" does have its appeal. The military has looked into this partially because a fighter jet already has too many buttons and switches.

Sound positioning is another one the military looked at for similar reasons. Games can already use surround sound to let you know that the monster is behind you.

3D displays have been worked on for a long time. Most still require goggles or have to be viewed from a specific angle. Electronics manufacturers develop systems for gamers and other consumers, universities want to model complex molecules in 3D.

Another immersive environment is being surrounded by screens. Look for articles on the CAVE virtual environment.

A heads up display (HUD) overlays computer data on the real world. The main down sides are that it tends to obstruct view and the wearable versions make you look like a dork.

A suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11524332)

Would anyone complain if we switched to some sort of enhanced sign language and the eyetoy for an interface a decade from now? Students could start using it now. We'd need enhanced for computer functions. Peripheral makers would never go for it, sure, but it would be a lot cheaper for businesses, and even help some of the disabled (since virtually everyone would have to learn). I love typing, but it seems signing (which I don't even do) has a set of shortcuts for words, is portable, sanitary and easier to internationalize. But then, I'm not sure about speed and ease of training (never have signed myself).

Not much. . . (1)

Bastian (66383) | more than 9 years ago | (#11510347)

There hasn't been much new stuff that I've seen. There are a few updates to old ideas (optical mice, for example), and a few reassignments of old devices to new uses - scroll-wheels on mice should be familiar to anyone who has played Arkanoid. There have been a lot of old ideas that have just recently become refined and/or cheap enough to reach the consumer market, such as touchscreens and tablets.

But I haven't seen anything truly new - and no, 3D mice don't count.

I think the issue is that there are no new problems that demand new solutions. The keyboard came about when we found a need to control mechanical writing machines. The mouse came about when someone figured out that we need to have a way to "pick" widets on a graphical display.

Voice recognition is neat, but I don't honestly consider it a viable option for how I will communicate with my computer day-to-day. Honestly, even if we redesign computer interfaces to be more easily controlled by voice, a day of listening to the guy sitting next to me in the office say, "delete file. . . run Word. . . open foo-proposal-dot-doc" would drive me insane, and anybody who even thinks about using voice recognition to control their computer on an airplane is going out the nearest emergency exit as soon as we hit cruising altitude. And a keyboard is still going to be the main device for programmers unless magic happens and everyone agrees that AppleScript really isn't such a shitty language after all.

With all that in mind, I think that the only way anything new is going to happen is if someone is actively trying to come up with an entirely new form of user interface. It's going to come out of some obsucre research group in a big company the way the mouse and GUI did, or it's going to be a natural offshoot of some genius professor's pet project. Either way, I doubt it's going to be something anybody is working towards with state-of-the-art computers and interfaces in mind, because the fact of the matter is that the keyboard and mouse (or stylus - which (barring handwriting recognition) is the same thing anyway) are the best we have right now.

That said, the thing I would really like to have is a decent system for tracking where I'm looking that will work with anyone who sits down at the computer, no matter what their posture. With that in place, I want to replace all of the old window focusing schemes with "focus follows eyes." I'd still want to use the mouse for selecting text boxes and clicking on things, though.

Re:Not much. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11511237)

I don't remember the name of the novel but I once read a sci-fi novel which involved "bloodswords."

These bloodswords were swords that had a few pins that would prick into your thumb when you held onto them, and would transfer a virus onto you. It would kill you if you weren't of a certain dynasty, but if you were, connections to your neurons would somehow be made so you essentially controlled the sword by thought.
IE the sword didn't only move because of the force from your hand. The sword "understood" that it was swinging and essentially helped you swing it.

What was even cooler was a whole fighter ship they built like this, which essentially could be controlled by thought. So you didn't actually turn a steering wheel or some other apparatus, but controlled the plane by thinking--you imagined the plane moving to the right, and it would move to the right.

Now that I'm done with that whole long analogy, I'll tell you why I brought it up. It's because that's why we want voice recognition, because we want the computer to _know_ what we want it to do. We want it to tell as little as possible. Converting to mouse and keyboard gestures is a little more effort than telling it (speaking to it).

Voice recognition is cool not for itself, but because it will be a necessary advancement before one day _willing_ our computers into doing things. /me goes back into hibernation

Re:Not much. . . (1)

Bastian (66383) | more than 9 years ago | (#11512707)

The thing is, I don't believe that talking to a computer takes less effort, nor do I think that it is a more direct connection to my thoughts. (Moving an arm and saying a word are both just ways of flapping meat in my book.) Every time I attempt to tell someone what to do with a computer, it takes a lot of verbage to make myself clear - things as simple as, "click the close button on this tab", which were a quick swoom-and-click with a mouse, take a lot of words to say.

I think there's an impusle to think of "don't have t o move your arms to do it" as the same thing as "takes less effort." Meh. I have an office job now, and worked in a factory a couple years ago. I may be pretty sedentary in the office job, but it's a lot more work.

Follow the Eyes (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530772)

That said, the thing I would really like to have is a decent system for tracking where I'm looking that will work with anyone who sits down at the computer, no matter what their posture. With that in place, I want to replace all of the old window focusing schemes with "focus follows eyes." I'd still want to use the mouse for selecting text boxes and clicking on things, though

This reminded me of something I remember seeing a while back. It was this device for people with muscular dystrophy (md) so that they could type/talk. What it would do is track where their eyes are looking at on a 26 'key' 'keyboard' that was about 2 or 3 feet across (and about 4 feet from their head). There were two sensors that would track the eyes and interpret which letter they were looking at for input into the computer. They could get a letter/character every 2-3 seconds as I recal. Adding something like this to my computer in place of a mouse would be nice. If they could get the response time up quick enough. And by quick, I mean so that it takes me more time to move my mouse than it does to get this thing to do the action. Although, I don't think I would mind being able to play Quake with it either.

Two immediately come to mind (2, Insightful)

Noah Adler (627206) | more than 9 years ago | (#11510755)

The first is the haptic glove line from Immersion Corp [] . At my old office we had a Sensable Phantom, which was somewhat neat in a "that's completely useless" sort of way, but this one really excites me. If the market for these grew and the price came down, I think it would be a great breakthrough for games and other simulations in particular. Imagine playing Black & White with one of these!

The second is an entire new field, combining bioinformatics and computing closer than ever. Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) is a burgeoning field, with a lot of research being done at universities such as Duke. I'm sure you've all heard of things such as the rhesus monkey controlling a robot arm [] via neurosensors embedded in its brain, for instance. There are also less intrusive methods available utilising EEG, such as the headbands from IBVA [] , cheesy as they may be. Obviously, though, these latter technologies don't have the same potential quality as their intrusive counterports.

And a third I thought of while writing this is Nintendo. Really. Their DS system has a lot of innovative features, what with its built in touchpad and microphone, and lack of mouse and keyboard, which means "traditional" methods are out of the question. Who knows what they're planning with their Revolution system? If it's something in the same vein, I think it will be a great boon for HCI. Of course, some of these could turn out to be flukes, but simply having someone with the exposure and resources of Nintendo (and their third parties) so actively involved in experimental input methods is very exciting.

sign language (2, Insightful)

arron_nz (846050) | more than 9 years ago | (#11511079)

My Daddy came up with a good idea recently. Using one of those CyberGlove-type things, one could enter information into a computer using deaf-dumb sign language using a trained AI program. He says it would probably be faster than keyboard input. I'm working on it for my 5th Form science project..

Re:sign language (1)

wild_berry (448019) | more than 9 years ago | (#11527936)

It will need automagic grammar sensing: as far as I am aware, people automatically recognise a declined verb, or when the noun or verb sense of a word is required. I think that some learning neural networks and five years of PhD study might fill that gap in your technology. :-P

Ask Tog, Look at HIG, try 3D-desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11511308)

see this site, it gooood. l

look at GNOME HIG

check out 3Ddesktop at:

Just always remember, If I can work without jumping over to the mouse, I get more work done.

How about a stand-up desk tax cut?

1960s approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11511311)

I've got a real fondness for the far-out and uninhibited technologies of the 1960s, and I think that hooking up a bodysuit [] to an analog computer is just amazing. This was before easy and cheap computing, which makes this even more amazing IMO.

I find it sad that all we can do today is sit on our asses and do 'research' into the past instead of building the future. When I look at the sad, limp, life- and passion-less [] state of today's "research" (no revolutions whatsoever in 40 years), I just feel like we have lost something in our culture.

Monitors will go away (1)

clone22 (252516) | more than 9 years ago | (#11511397)

in favor of laser projection systems which allow you to interact with the projected image. And you won't really think of it as interacting with a computer.

Re voice interfaces, Intel has been saying that it will be around the time CPUs hit the 10 GHz range.

Peruse the the proceedings of UIST (1)

useruser (638080) | more than 9 years ago | (#11511544)

Much of the cutting edge research in user interfaces, both in software and hardware, has been published at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology. Take a gander at the last five years, starting from the 2004 conference site [] .

Braille (1)

Ed Almos (584864) | more than 9 years ago | (#11512496)

Especially the braille buttons on a drive-through ATM. The day I see a blind guy using a drive-through ATM I'm giving up computers to make a living making childrens toys.

Ed Almos
Budapest, Hungary

Re:Braille (1)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 9 years ago | (#11513093)

Do you think that NCR makes two kinds of ATMs? Drive-thru and walk up? No, they make one standard model that all have Braille keys. If the bank decides to install it in a driveway that's their business. That's why they have Braille on "drive-thru" ATMs.

Re:Braille (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#11514231)

And even 'drive thru's' are usable by the blind. A blind person as a passenger in a taxicab, for instance.

Start with the researchers (1)

lbjay (34118) | more than 9 years ago | (#11513513)

If you're looking for cutting edge HCI research, go to where the researchers are: the universities. Here's a pretty exhaustive directory [] of HCI educational links, university departments, etc.

I'm currently taking some HCI grad school courses at Tufts [] , and the department head is doing a lot of work in the field of Tangible User Interfaces [] .

twiddler (1)

LordMyren (15499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11514917)

the twiddler is a one handed keyboard and pointing device. proficient users are able to type faster than qwerty keyboards enable. used in wearable computers, and just cool.

unfortunately the #$@$'s are charging $200+. thankfully i'm out of college soon and will hopefully be making money after that. anyone rouge dev shacks looking for a world class hacker + ace communicator?


Re:twiddler (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11524480)

...anyone rouge dev shacks looking for a world class hacker + ace communicator?

Run that by me again?

Wouldn't an 'ace communicator' know when to use capital letters?

Voice Recognition (1)

TeeJS (618313) | more than 9 years ago | (#11516499)

I've been doing a lot of research on voice recognition software lately, as the school I work at has a student with MS we'd like to help be a litle more independent in his computer work. I've been playing with it since Apple first bundled it with OS 7, and it seems like it's just on the cusp of actually being usable - even on a handheld.

I'd say whoever puts some research into how to write the UI for voice input and does it right will be well ahed of the game in a few years.

In the future... (1)

innerweb (721995) | more than 9 years ago | (#11516900)

I would keep my eye on implants that allow direct access to the brain.

One person who is a quadriplegic recently (this past year) had a chip implanted. He can now control things by thinking about it.

Here are some other articles from a google and some things I have marked...

Ubiquitous computing (1)

dubl-u (51156) | more than 9 years ago | (#11518133)

From what I hear from pals, much of the interesting interface work is in ubiquitous computing [] . The basic notion is that we're reaching the end of the era where the computer is an appliance that you go to like a stove or a refrigerator. Instead, computers get woven more closely into everyday life, including handhelds, wearables, and smart furniture [] . Although today it's mainly science fiction [] and art projects [] , I'm hearing interesting stories from friends about research prototypes.

I'd suggest virtual reality 3D... (1)

SteeldrivingJon (842919) | more than 9 years ago | (#11518237)

I'd suggest a virtual reality 3D interface, but it's pretty clear that the White House and Congress are operating in a virtual reality already .

I just hope their next level isn't called "Knee Deep In The Dead".

Audiopad and others like it seem quite neat (1)

tweedlebait (560901) | more than 9 years ago | (#11518596)

Granted, it has limits but the tech hasn't come out of the shop enough to be really explored- [] There have been several like it in the last few years with lots of neat uses- mostly design your own interface on the fly or planning /flowcharting apps.

Examples from Science Fiction (1)

The_Dougster (308194) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519088)

Well, in classic Trek, they just talked to the computer for mundane commands. Spock had this tablet looking thing with a stylus occasionally. Large banks of blinking lights seemed ubiquitous and perhaps they could interpret them As Seen in the Matrix(tm).

The old Trikorder's seemed pretty cool, some kind of PDA on steriods and apparently kitted out with a variety of sensors such that it could record vast amounts of scientific data, audio, video, and who knows what else it did.

Later Trek's seemed to show you more of a touchscreen type display using something akin to LCARS. It's probably just Debian or Gentoo, however many years down the road.

Alien computers always seem to be either panels covered with glowing glyphs which one presses, or else large clusters of crystals which one waves one's hand over. Alien glyphs don't sound very user-friendly, but the crystal thing doesn't sound too bad. The crystal type devices usually involve holograph projectors also, which is definately a desirable feature.

The Borg's are presumably "jacked in" all the time, and you can see what happened to them, so make what you will of it.

2 ways (1)

Ostie (851551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519799)

1-Holodeck, you get a full virtual suit with helmet, gloves, foots etc... (like in the Lawnmower movie) 2-3D holographic projector with humanoid interactive interface, you just ask the humanoid what you want him to do and he does it(like in the Andromeda sci-fi series).

Intelligent User Interfaces (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11522393)

I've been doing research (non origional) recently on the subject and would suggest looking into Intlligent User Interfaces (IUI). Most of the research in this field is more future oriented but there is always speech recognition software. Of course this technology has a long way to go to reach conversational proficiency. I believe that at some time in the next few decades computers won't have files to open or hard drives to format, but there will be a personal assistant 'living' in the computer. I would suggest reading the Winter 2001 AI Magazine [] .

Why? (1)

zero_offset (200586) | more than 9 years ago | (#11527377)

This seems like an odd line of inquiry for a US Senator, as other posters have alluded.
I'm interested in hearing the explanation behind this inquiry.

grandfathered? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11530480)

You are using grandfathered in a strange sense.
ITYM that the typewriter interface was the father of the computer keyboard.

3D and speech have been in the works as I/O interfaces since the 60's. Neither seem destined to replace the current devices. The problem is that they lack the precision of typing and pointing devices. Speech has had inroads in the telephone area where the alternative is the keypad.

The best interface in current use which has not been applied to computers is ASL. The deaf currently read/type messages, but I've often thought that the fluidity of signing is far more elegant and should be translatable to a graphical medium.
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