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BumpTop, Pushing the Desktop Metaphor

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the slide-'em-around dept.


Alranor writes "BumpTop is a new way of manipulating your GUI desktop with a graphics pen. Documents can be moved and piled (among other actions) as if they were real pieces of paper on a physical desktop. Simulated real physical interactions, such as documents pushing others out of the way as you move them around, are intended to increase the intuitiveness of the layout tool. Given the messiness of my desks at work and home, I'm not so sure this will work for me, but it's an interesting idea."There's a neat video demo linked from the site (and a "hip-hop overview") if you want to see BumpTop in action; unfortunately for Linux users, BumpTop seems to be Windows-only. As reader idangazit describes it, this is "not just another "me-too" alternative UI; a lot of effort and polish has been put into the (pen-based) interaction, resulting in a very natural way of interacting with collections of information. Less sci-fi than Minority Report, but far more likely to hit a desktop near you in the next few years."

Update: 06/22 16:55 GMT by T : As zdzichu reader points out in the comments below, a visually similar project called lowfat, with an equally impressive video demo, is being developed — with enough sponsorship, lowfat will go open source.

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Impressive, but usability?.. (5, Interesting)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581504)

It does look very cool, but I can't help thinking if it would actually be practical or usable.
Features such as the LassoMenu look awesome, but in all honesty, I can't see how I could apply it enough to be proactive.

Of course, developement of such technologies is always a good thing, and its good eye-candy if only that :)

Re:Impressive, but usability?.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15581530)

Great indeed.

I always wanted a more tedious way to use my computer; after all, I'm a stupid FOSS-monkey and have nothing better to do all day long.

Re:Impressive, but usability?.. (0, Offtopic)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581596)

Ahh yes, because its so important to be without morals or principles, and then to post on a website without identity.

You, my friend, are an awesome example of societies rectum-reject

Re:Impressive, but usability?.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15581983)

and then to post on a website without identity

So, I suppose "ilovegeorgebush" is your real identity, faggot, huh?

Ahh yes, because its so important to be without morals or principles

I don't need those; I have a nice cozy pussy.

Re:Impressive, but usability?.. (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581618)

proactive or pro-active (pr-k'tv)

Acting in advance to deal with an expected difficulty; anticipatory: proactive steps to prevent terrorism.

Re:Impressive, but usability?.. (4, Interesting)

lcde (575627) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581672)

I could definately see it being used in the tablet market. I don't think shifting through file systems with a pen would be much fun.

On a more 'futuristic' note: Wouldn't it be cool to have a desk like in The Island [imdb.com] where the doctor brought up their files ON his desk. Now image a big desk with a touch panel as its face. This technology would be pretty cool. Pile up your documents, open them and a virtual keyboard/mouse appears.

Re:Impressive, but usability?.. (4, Funny)

John Nowak (872479) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581755)

and a virtual keyboard/mouse appears.

Wow. Really thinking outside the box there. :)

And Mac users... (3, Funny)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581506)

...are not unfortunate since they don't need no real world metaphors.

Re:And Mac users... (2, Funny)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581523)

...are not unfortunate since they don't need no real world metaphors.
...are unfortunate since they don't understand real world metaphors.

Why emulate old technology? (5, Interesting)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581509)

The whole point of having a computer is to free yourself from paper. So why would you take a step back and try to digitally emulate a system that is antiquated? A computer offers endless opportunities for organizing and storing data, I see this as a step back.

http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Re:Why emulate old technology? (4, Interesting)

ZackStone (729714) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581622)

Because,as you can see from the video, the amount of information that is conveyed in a pile of papers is much larger than you could ever achieve on a desktop. Then what about folders, directories, or labels? Well, so far none of these could communicate, for example, your workload at a glance. How many times have you filed something away so neatly that you can't find it hirearchically (is that even a word?) and have to resort to searching!? --ZS

Re:Why emulate old technology? (2, Insightful)

dk-software-engineer (980441) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581750)

How many times have you filed something away so neatly that you can't find it hirearchically (is that even a word?) and have to resort to searching!?

Countless times. On a computer AND on paper. On a computer, so what? It's easy to search when needed. On paper? Now that really sucks. That's one reason I hate paper. Print it, and it's lost.

Oh, and that is true for "neatly organized" and "not organized at all" (AKA "huge pile"). Organizing just makes searching easier to avoid and easier to do.

Unfortunately, "not using paper" often means "using PDF". Well, at least they are searchable, and I can have an open window next to it.

Re:Why emulate old technology? (1, Redundant)

kjorn (687709) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581627)

I does look cool, but then you start to think "How exactly would I organise my 10,000 corporate documents with this? Or my thousands of digital photos. Hm.... How about all my music. Oh no. Hang on. Too many.

Still very cool demo and shows what touch screens can really do. But anyone with a Nintendo DS knows the power and fun a touch screen brings.

Re:Why emulate old technology? (2, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581632)

> The whole point of having a computer is to free yourself from paper. So why would you take a step
> back and try to digitally emulate a system that is antiquated? A computer offers endless
> opportunities for organizing and storing data, I see this as a step back.

Also, I don't actually have many "documents" on my "desk top". There are a few pieces of paper on my desk. I don't really much them around very much though.

Re:Why emulate old technology? (3, Insightful)

fuyu-no-neko (839858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581650)

The whole point of having a computer is to free yourself from paper. So why would you take a step back and try to digitally emulate a system that is antiquated? A computer offers endless opportunities for organizing and storing data, I see this as a step back.

Sometimes the UI has to take a step back because there are users out there who find it hard to take the step forward.
I agree that it's a bad idea to limit your thinking to physical metaphors if you can reasonably think in a similar way to the way a computer works, but then this probably isn't the right desktop for us. If however there's someone new to computers who doesn't want to or is unable to relearn their dead wood system, I think the option of such a desktop would be great for them.

Re:Why emulate old technology? (4, Interesting)

netsavior (627338) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581653)

I guess you have never met my users.

They print out an excel document with 3 cells so they can "read" it. No joke one time the 1st VP printed out an email I sent him that had a 6 digit order count, and no other text... he read it out loud, then threw it in the recycling. They keep giant boxes of paper docs that are printed off from our document management system, and are easily retrievable. We have a 100% paperless system, and at any given time the users have 10-20 sheets of paper on their desks, all of them digitally accessable.

I don't have any paper on my desk, haven't since the early 1990s, but this advancement is not intended for me. It is for "Joe Paper-Lover"

Re:Why emulate old technology? (4, Insightful)

Nurgled (63197) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581814)

I'm no technophobe, but I always have at least one paper document on my desk at work. Why? Firstly, because then I can free up my monitor for more important things like my text editor, and secondly because I can scrawl all over a paper document with my handy ballpoint pen much more easily than I can annotate an electronic document using my mouse and keyboard.

Re:Why emulate old technology? (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 7 years ago | (#15582025)

...because I can scrawl all over a paper document with my handy ballpoint pen much more easily than I can annotate an electronic document using my mouse and keyboard.

It kills me what "metaphors" make it and the ones that don't.

The whole WYSIWY_M_G (_M_ == may) thing is inferior to WISIWIG (what I say is what I get). Also, things like stickies, notes, scribbles in margins are required for both within documents as well as to be appended to their icons, but we don't get that. We get a pen that, like the mouse, is really convenient for people to use once they have left their hands from the main UI component -- the keyboard. I predict the next UI genius will come out with voice recognition, and I would love to see what my computer does when I tell it to "Fuck off!"

Re:Why emulate old technology? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581695)

That's the problem with computers. People try to take stuff they know from other realms and apply it to computers, but that doesn't work. It may be nice if it did, but it isn't. People refuse to learn something new, and only learn the minimal amount for their job to get done. They don't want to learn it well enough to get their job done quick and easily, just enough to get the job done.

Re:Why emulate old technology? (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581709)

The best and the worst metaphors are somewhat shaky.

Metaphor is a literary term comeing from the Greek: to carry over. It's not the how much you carry over (the realism), but the usefulness of whatever makes it through. Usually the less excess baggage you carry over, the better.

The file cabinet metaphor is useful because people want to be able to find things by an indexing attribute (e.g. client name). However, you don't need to carry over the fact that physical files can only be filed in one place.

Likewise the desktop metaphor is useful, until you run into being buried in clutter.

Re:Why emulate old technology? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581977)

This is exactly the point. This desktop may work well for 10's or 100's of documents, but what about when you are managing 1000's of documents. Trying to manage a large collection of photos or music is a lot easier when they are stored digitally. Allowing things to be categorized into many folders, makes my music and pictures a lot easier to find.

Physical limitations are absurd. (4, Insightful)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581833)

Why would you WANT documents pushing each other out of the way? That just means that, if I have something exactly where I want it, and I happen to want to move something in a direct path blocked by the other document, that means I either have to move AROUND the second document, or push it out of the way, and then go back and move it again. This is simply one of many such problems with a "phsycial" interface.

And then of course, you have to deal with the extra processing costs inherent in such a desktop. It may look pretty, but behind it you have to have the CPU doing plenty of physics calculations, the GPU doing rendering, anti-alwhich could slow down a slow system with a cluttered desktop.

My biggest gripe with this, however, is the fact that the icons all look the same. I don't want to have to memorize the placement of documents on my desktop (even though I often do so through simple habit, anyway), and these icons barely indictate file type, much less name, which I find to be a huge handicap. Without file names on the desktop, things get confusing rather quickly.

A final gripe I have is that, if we must use a pen-type device, does that mean we're switching from a pen to a mouse whenever we want to use an application that's incompatable/inconvenient when using this software?

The technology is interesting, but I doubt its practical use.

Re:Why emulate old technology? (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581865)

Sounds great to me, instead of having your mess spread out on a 2m wide desk, it's now all crammed on a 30cm screen !

I can't wait till this is ported to my cellphone ! Or to a screen grafted on one of my toenails !

If it's smaller, it has to be better, right ?

Re:Why emulate old technology? (3, Insightful)

daniil (775990) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581929)

The whole point of having a computer is to free yourself from paper.

No, it isn't. The whole point of having a computer is to make tedious and repetitive tasks easier. The "paperless office" hype was just a way to promote the use of computers ("cut costs by reducing the amount of paper used"). Or maybe it was just the standard answer given to business people by computer salesmen: "What can you do with it? Well, uh, I don't know, you'll have to spend a lot less money on paper?"

So why would you take a step back and try to digitally emulate a system that is antiquated?

Because this is what they're used to. First GUI-s used the file cabinet metaphor because this is what they were mostly used for -- filekeeping. The people using them were used to having huge file cabinets around. These days, computers are more and more being used for creating stuff, not only archiving it; the people doing this kind of work are used to having to work behind a desk full of stacks of paper. Eventually, this will change. Someone will come up with a more efficient way of interacting with information. But people first have to get used to using a computer (twenty years of personal computing might seem like a long time, but it isn't). A familiar environment will make it much easier for them to wrap their minds around this new thing.

A computer offers endless opportunities for organizing and storing data, I see this as a step back.

A computer can only do what you want it to do. If you don't know what a "new" interface should look like, then "emulating a system that is antiquated" is the first logical step in developing one.

Re:Why emulate old technology? (1)

op12 (830015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15582016)

A computer offers endless opportunities for organizing and storing data, I see this as a step back.

This is one of the "endless opportunities" for organizing and storing data. It's another way to visualize it...may work well for some and not well for others. I don't see myself using it, but I'm sure the concept would be useful to some.

The trouble is... (5, Interesting)

Orange Goblin (945041) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581513)

...you'll spend all your time playing with the physics engine, and none of it doing any actual work.

Re:The trouble is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15581617)

You say that like it's a bad thing :P

Re:The trouble is... (3, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581895)

How good is the engine anyway ? If you open a window, do all your documents get blown away ?

Hardware acceleration (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15581519)

What's next? Ageia PhysX cards for office PCs for 1000000 simple document collisions per frame?

At a glance... (5, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581527)

I would LOVE to use this system for dealing with photographs or other documents that are easily recognizeable at a glance, but beyond that I don't see any use for it other than 'fun'.

I watched that video and the entire time I thought 'useless' until they showed the photos. There was also once a video of someone using multiple fingers to manipulate photographs, and I thought this would be useful as well. Neither of these systems can do much for me otherwise, though.

As for being Windows-only... I think that shows how short-sited these people are. Linux users are quite a bit more likely to embrace change than Windows users. But, maybe that's to our advantage. We can now design and implement a MUCH better and more useable system that was intelligently designed (I couldn't resist) instead of just what someone thought was cool.

If I had much free time, I would be working on it myself.

Re:At a glance... (2, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581575)

As for being Windows-only... I think that shows how short-sited these people are. Linux users are quite a bit more likely to embrace change than Windows users.

You *are* kidding, right? In my experience (both personal and based on comments here) Linux users tend to be the least flexible, most opposed to change people I've ever met. That's not to say that they *all* are, of course, but read any article here about KDE, Gnome, xgl, new HCI ideas, etc and you'll see a whole slew of comments deriding it, with a lot of them expousing the innate superiority of the commenter's chosen preference (be it WindowMaker, the CLI, vi & make rather than an IDE, C rather than a higher level language, etc).

Yes, you also get a lot of comments arguing against them, but if anything that merely implies that as a whole, Linux users are neither more nor less likely to embrace change.

Hell, a lot of the die-hard Linux users *won't* embrace change - lots of them got their computing start on Unix boxes. Not all Linux users have migrated away from Windows in disgust; a lot (myself included) got our start on OSes other than Windows.

Re:At a glance... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581613)

...vi & make rather than an IDE...

I agree with most of what you said, but make (and Ant) are better than letting the IDE build the project, because you can more easily tell what's going on and have better control over the build process.

Re:At a glance... (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581882)

...which is why we use an IDE (Eclipse) to write the code in, and ant (via the built-in interface) to actually build and deploy our code.

We get all the nice features of a proper code-aware editing environment (real-time error flagging, refactoring support, code structure browsing, etc), with the power and control of ant.

Don't get me wrong, I used to use vi and make exclusively; I just have no desire to go back.

Re:At a glance... (1)

SiliconJesus (1407) | more than 7 years ago | (#15582040)

Part of the problem is too many people are 'casual' Linux users. Hell, I'm a Solaris admin, and Windows is still my primary desktop. Thanks to applications like Outlook, I'm permantly stuck on the Windows interface (and yes, I've used Evolution plenty of times, but there are some plugins that my company uses in Exchange that Evolution can't use, therefore, I'm stuck with Outlook).

Re:At a glance... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#15582056)

Yeah, I know -- I wasn't complaining about the IDE itself.

I'm just cranky because I have to use Visual Studio at work and have to deal with the stupid opaque .vcproj and .sln files. I wish we could switch to Nant...

Re:At a glance... (1)

bsartist (550317) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581585)

As for being Windows-only... I think that shows how short-sited these people are.
Yeah, why would they settle for selling to 90% of the desktop market when they could have given it away to 10%? What morons! :-)

Okay, kidding aside, surely you can see why a commercial vendor might want to go for the big fish first, and save the Mac & *nix ports for later? Even if Linux users were 5x more likely (a made-up number) to embrace something new, that still leaves twice as many potential customers for a Windows version than a Linux version. In business, it's all about the benjamins. I'm not saying that's necessarily a good thing, mind you, I'm just saying that's how it usually works.

Re:At a glance... (1)

gutnor (872759) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581698)

Completely aggree and in addition:

- Even if Linux users like the change, they already have plenty of desktop managers to play with. Also Destkop Manager choice in Linux seems to have become a religious question those days.

- Linux users are no used to pay ( yeah nobody "likes" to pay, but at least Windows user are "familiar" with the idea ) A business looks at the market size it can catch but also looks at what price the market buy something. If it needs to sell 2 times cheaper to linux users, they need a 2 times bigger market.

Lowfat (2, Informative)

Peturrr (940456) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581619)

This reminds me of something I saw on the UbuntuForum.
It was a simple start of an Linux app in wich you could manipulate photo's very much like this app.

Found it! => Lowfat [thepimp.net]

Re:At a glance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15581710)

"but beyond that I don't see any use for it other than 'fun'.

I watched that video and the entire time I thought 'useless' until they showed the photos."

I was only able to see a short version given their video file server is hosed, but I would absolutely love to have this desktop the way I work.

I tend to throw things into piles on the desktop. Then waste time opening up a bunch of folders that I have to drive back up to see the crap I was working on. Sometimes I end up with these huge "research" junk folders where I've saved pages and files for days; the one I have had 3,000 individual items. With this sort of UI, I would have more interactively known the pile was getting huge and reorganized, or even let grow, or relocated it, etc. With a standard UI, you don't see the 3,000 items per se, only by the folder listing count, as your typical desktop display maybe shows only 100-150 items per screen.

Further, while desktop search engine tech helps people like me, when I saw the demo, I kept thinking about extending the MS zoom-in feature and unix multiple desktops, both separately and jointly. Separately, multiple desks for piles of interactive papers. ANd zoom in on piles to get more detail on what they are. Jointly, zoom in and interact with the contents themselves (which they more or less suggest in the short).

I would definitely pick up a physics engine card if there was a linux variation on this. At the very least, a fun GUI as you say, but there seems, at least to me, a correlation with fun, interactive GUIs and productivity in my book (BeOS, Apple's System, etc.).

Re:At a glance... (2, Informative)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581830)

I would LOVE to use this system for dealing with photographs

Aperture [apple.com] lets you do something like this: you can arbitrarily arrange photos on a workspace (light table).

Star Trek 42 (4, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581529)

..."To boldly go where no metaphor has gone before..."

Seriously, I want my computer to be *better* organized than my desk, not worse.

Re:Star Trek 42 (4, Interesting)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581611)

It is better, it can be arbitrarily large!

Imagine it! Documents and photos and games and toys stretching out for virtual miles! You'll have to code a flight sim just to see all your data!

Then might as well add topography to represent groups of data. A gleaming ivory tower for academic research. A giant drive-in for movies and tv files. A dystopian city structure for work related folders. A dark ocean for the internet, full of dangers and terrors and fun. A huge cave would lead into the purgatory of your "recycle bin" files, where they wait to be reborn or fed to the maw of no return.

memory palace (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581759)

This brings to mind "memory palaces". I initially dismissed this as a gimmick but your post makes me think perhaps it would be a great way to improve your memory of all the information you have.

Unusable eyecandy? (1)

graaah (739607) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581534)

It looks really cool, but not very useful...
I think I'm sticking to folders in a tree view for now. When working with a few houndred files at the same time, it's not like this thing makes it easier to find anything.

Need to clean my glasses (5, Funny)

Elvis Parsley (939954) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581538)

I initially read that as "bumtop" and thought "that's a weird place to put your computer."

Appropriate if you're in a situation where you have to pull numbers out of your ass, though.

Simple Pleasures (3, Insightful)

celardore (844933) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581544)

The age of email and similar IT based office communication lacks some of the real world 'feel' to it. Sometimes when an email annoys me, and I've dealt with the query I will print out said email, screw it up into a ball and hurl it into the bin while saying an expletive. Then delete the email from the system.

It just wouldn't be the same if it was ALL technology. I like to touch things with my hands. I like getting a pile of documents in my hands and banging the sides so they all align. I like dumping a big pile of papers onto someone I don't like's desk. Ink stains on a white shirt, I could do without though.

Wrong way around (4, Funny)

IainMH (176964) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581545)

I wish I could make my phyical desktop and indeed my whole flat more like my windows desktop.

"They're coming around when?!"

*select all -> drag into single folder*

Re:Wrong way around (1)

kjorn (687709) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581651)

*select all -> drag into single folder*

*select all -> throw into spare room, close door*

Re:Wrong way around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15581862)

*glances guiltily at closet*

Crumpled slashdot (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15581549)

Hah! Watching the video I noticed that at around 6.05min they pick a window to screw up and discard. And the window of choice? It's clearly displaying slashdot!

News for nerds. Stuff that crumples.

Accommodation for students [letsuni.org]

Problems (4, Insightful)

ardor (673957) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581554)

It is very nice, but adapting real-world metaphors to such a degree makes very little sense. What most forget is that real-world metaphors are not optimal. For example, a pile of paper is not optimal because it is hard to search something in it. Using computers, I can access a text file nearly instantly, so why should I want a delay because of the metaphors? IMO the last really useful UI invention was the desktop search, because it satisfies most user's needs: a) fast access, b) easy search, c) instantly accessible.

Of course, this is a research project, and some of its results may find their way into mainstream UIs. For example, I could think of a variation of the lasso menu. Draw a lasso using the mouse over a couple of files, then pull up, and a directory is created with all marked files in it.

Re:Problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15581716)

You see though, they are mixing the two together. The mind "flow" of a true desktop's organization with the ease and speed that a computer has. Sure, a pile of papers on my desk aren't optimal, but then again i can't browse through them as quickly as the guys did on that demo.

Re:Problems (3, Interesting)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581751)

but people are spacial creatures... the flat, 1-D world of bits doesn't work very well for most people. A real desk holds a lot of information just by "being" a desk that a desktop computer doesn't hold. People remember that that stack in the corner was from last thursday, that the extra thick document with two staples is the TPS report the boss required after-hours, that they hate the bottom drawer because it sticks.. so they remember perfectly what's in it. Most of the greatest minds of the 20th century were incredibely disorganized...yet they could find important work from 3 years ago, blindfolded in messy offices filled with books and papers. Our brains are wired to work in 3 dimension and time, computers will always be far too "flat" for ordinary people without some kind of "crutch"

Re:Problems (1)

kirkjobsluder (520465) | more than 7 years ago | (#15582047)

I use desktop search on a daily basis, but I don't think its going to replace the container metaphor any time soon. Just as an example, you copy a version of a file to a network or usb "drive" for work on a different computer. You fire-up your search engine (Google, Copernic, Glimpse, Beagle, Spotlight) and get multiple hits. Which one do you want? How do you tell?

Advocates of abandoning containers neglect to note that with the exception of the device name, file paths are just metadata, with the last few elements often related to topic an task. Perhaps more importantly, they provide ways to manipulate groups of related itmes.

Long Term Storage (5, Funny)

fishfish (139505) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581557)

Where are the cardboard boxes you can throw the stacks in after they've sat on your desk for two years?

Re:Long Term Storage (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581665)

More importantly, where is the match to fire up the cardboard boxes you've thrown the stacks in?

Let's just hope nobody writes a plug-in so that Clippy crosses over into BumpTop.

The desktop metaphor sucks (1)

autOmato (446950) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581572)

If I don't pay close attention my real desktop becomes a mess within seconds. Why would I want my computer to be the same?

I want the computer to organize my stuff for me - not replecating the awful mess the real world is.

(That's one of the reasons I use wmii [wmii.de])

A step backwards (1)

Paul Carver (4555) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581583)

I spend way to much time trying to overcome the flood of paper and other junk in the real world cluttering up my desk and surrounding flat surfaces. Why would I want that on my computer? What's needed are better more efficient ways of finding stuff even though you barely remember what it was or what it looked like. Maybe a compulsive organization freak could deal with this system, but for ordinary people it'll probably just reduce their computer desktop to even worse disorganized chaos than their real desk.

Dual Screen (4, Interesting)

cabazorro (601004) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581588)

To understand the power of a simpler human-computer interface one can see as an example the Nintendo DS. I have handed the gadget to people that never in their lives have use one or a computer for that matter (brain-age game). And by using the stylus and the touch-screen they get to play with it almost immediately.
The mouse needs to be replaced by a touch screen with a stylus.

Re:Dual Screen (1)

jimktrains (838227) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581659)

That an mice wreak havoc on the carpal bones and tendons. We should all be using neural readers:-p But seriously, what could be more intuitive then a CLI, we should all just use that? it would make life so much easier.

On a personal note: I tried to do something like this a while back, for fun; but never got pass the design stange, as I am horrible with graphics (and my computer at the time couldn't crunch numbers fast enough, it was old for its day), kudos for getting it to look nice and work well.

Re:Dual Screen (1)

Zutfen (841314) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581936)

I can appreciate your point about the DS; however, I am fully content to use a mouse for 95%+ tasks on my computer. If you tell a person that has never used a computer that the mouse moves the pointer, they will grasp that concept, I would think, as fast as the stylus version.

The mouse is more effective, and better suited for fine-point manipulation than a touch screen. I work on touch screen POS systems all day, and when I'm setting them up I use a keyboard and mouse from my desktop, because it's faster and easier. The software we run on them has large enough buttons that fine point manipulation isn't required (the OS is another story altogether); but unless your OS is specifically designed for touch screens, using said touch input is a major pain, even when calibrated properly.

Beside that, the mouse is the lazy man's input device. I don't have to move my arm at all to use a mouse, the same can not be said for a 15"+ touch screen.

So yes, the DS is awesome, but I would say it's because it's whole interface was developed for touch. PC's really aren't totally in line with that statement.

"Piles"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15581600)

They'd better watch out for Apple's patents.

First.. eh never mind (3, Funny)

abenassi (846350) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581612)

I would have had first post if I hadn't had to push all the papers off of my keyboard with my pen.

Look at the bigger picture. (3, Insightful)

jbarr (2233) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581628)

This is a fascinating concept, and it looks like it could be very useful, especially when using pen-based input. But in looking at other posts here, it seems that others are failing to see the bigger picture. Don't look at this as the end product, but look at as an add-on to curent GUI technology, or a component within a more sophistocated GUI. Coupled with other existing UI features, this could prove to be a powerful addition that would make pen-based interaction much more useful. No, it's not an answer in and of itself, but looks like a promising tool to enhance the pen-based GUI concept.

The problem with these kinds of technology demos is that many people view them as an end product, and then write them off without considering how they might fit into a larger environment. Besides, isn't part of the usefulness of computers to be able to perform tasks virtually that could not otherwise be done in the physical world? If such function is provided in an intuitive way, then it makes computing more seamless and useful.

Re:Look at the bigger picture. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15581692)

The problem with these kinds of technology demos is that many people view them as an end product, and then write them off without considering how they might fit into a larger environment.
No, they problem with these kinds of technology demons is that they are aimed at Oooh-Teh-Shiny! people.

The papers on the same page are probably more useful than the videos.

Re:Look at the bigger picture. (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581974)

This is a product that pops up every once in a while. The pile metaphor, while interesting, requires some underlying technology to make it work. I am not just talkig about the eye candy, which is, as you say, interesting in itself and could lead to some interesting things, but the file structure.

This is why I think 'the pile' has never taken off. To really work it requires a robust data driven file system. For instance, we now use a folder metaphor to represent related catagories to materials. We have nested folder for deeper level of heirachacal organization. This system does not work with the pile, as scanning a directory with 1000 files is not reasonable.

The piles on desks work with people who have good sense on 3d visualazation. I know where things are by thier reletive 3d location. For such people, this metaphor will work well, and I think it is why we see implemetations of it. Many designers have good 3d visulations, so doesn't everyone? It seems to me that what past implementations have missing is the data driven aceess, which is implicit in the file model, but not moved to the pile model.

I suppose the good news is tha we are slowly moving to data driven file systems. Mac OS has sherlock, and MS Windows Vista will have something similiar, though it will not have the full database system that would be perfect for the pile. Here is how it would work. You have piles on your desk, piles on the floor, piles in drawers. On could succesively search different piles, and the candidate objects would fly out, or zoom, or whatever. I question if we have the horsepower for this yet, but it is coming. This is the type of GUI that could be considered a Humane Interface.

Bumptop by analogy should mean (1)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581640)

A portable computer optimised for use on a pregnant woman's bump.

This is definitely one for the people who brought you the polka dot iMac.
It should be pastel colored, and have a speaker in the base to play suitable noises to the fetus while mother to be works from home.

Re:Bumptop by analogy should mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15581726)

And when excessive heat and radiation cause deformities in the unborn foetus Apple will turn around and state that the bumptop isn't designed for use by pregnant women on the bump, in spite of countless ad campaigns showing rows of pregnant women in silhouette using the bumptop.

Too little too late (2, Insightful)

broothal (186066) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581654)

Pretty nifty demo. It looked cool. But - I'm afraid time has passed for organising stuff like that. Remember the olden days when you placed all your documents and emails in folders. Now a days you just file everything away and use a search engine (desktop search in this example) to locate the document needed.

Finally, an OS for managers (4, Interesting)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581655)

Honestly, most of the software managers/bosses I have worked for can't think abstractly. They need to SEE prototypes, need to USE test software, or at least see pictures and text about how its supposed to work. Start describing software to them without visual aids and their eyes just gloss over.

Same goes for when managers start using a computer, I mean, the O.N./O.F.F. switch escapes them sometimes, and higher level concepts such as organizing files in folders is just too far beyond their capabilities.

So, an OS desktop that lets you see all your files and folders looking like pieces of paper and folders (I bet they even have email looking like envelopes too!) on a desktop that allows you to pile them up and look like stacks of paper and folders and envelops, what a concept!!!!

I guess ICONS that look like paper and folders that you can place anywhere on your desktop isn't good enough. It requires too much thought to associate an icon with a file or a folder. A picture of a piece of paper on a square is too hard to rationalize as being a document.

This is a revolutionary GUI concept and I can't wait for OS X or Windows to implement this idea as using computers today, with those pesky abstract icons, is just too darn hard, at least for managers.

What we really need is a x-platform desktop API (2, Interesting)

Deep Fried Geekboy (807607) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581657)

I really like BumpTop but others might not. Evidently what we really need is a universal file management etc API so that third parties can write interfaces which are independent of the underlying platform. I can then write a Finder replacement for OS X which will also run on Linux or Vista, and developers can market interfaces as they do any other app.

The interface is just another app. Once we get that, we'll be rockin'.

Balance (3, Interesting)

Bombula (670389) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581667)

There has to be some sort of balance between making the interface intuitive and making it efficient. All GUIs fall somewhere along the spectrum. The thing to remember is where intuitive comes from: abstraction is intuitive when it closely resembles the structure of our real (physical) world experiences. This is true for lots of things besides just computer interfaces - things like language that are built upon abstract relationships between symbols, and their structures are inherently built on our evolved framework of physical and behavioral structures (Chomsky et al).

So here's the deal: an ideal inferface will basically have a structure (i.e.: a logical framework of relationships) closely resembling the real world, but will operate at a speed unhindered by real-world mechanics like intertia, momentum, and spatial constraints. The existing folder+desktop system has been a natural, maybe even unconcscious, evolution towards precisely such a model.

Personally, I think as long as we're missing a dimension - if we're in 2D instead of 3D - then we're not going to have a completely intuitive interface. The problem, though, is that true 3D still isn't really available. We just have 2D emulation of 3D on computer monitors.

So these kinds of fancy 3D interfaces that have physics engines, collision detection, and all that stuff are sort of wasted in my mind until we have a really immersive 3D display system. I feel exactly the same way about FPS games. I'm a gamer, but I'm crushed that VR never took off. There's just no true feeling of immersion if you're stuck staring at your zillion-polygon virtual world through a tiny 19" porthole.

Re:Balance (1)

insanarchist (921436) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581793)

"There has to be some sort of balance between making the interface intuitive and making it efficient. All GUIs fall somewhere along the spectrum" I'd hate to see a GUI that DOESN'T fall within that spectrum!

Could be a great interface for games (3, Interesting)

simon_hibbs2 (792812) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581669)

The first thing that popped into my head while watching this was that it could make even ten-thumbed fumblers like me into class-act poker dealers. That has obvious gaming connotations, but realy this would be a very nice interface for games where you're manipulating simulatioons of real-world object or resources. RTS games user interfaces are all about multiply-selecting different categories of objects and issuing commands, and the gestures displayed here would be ideal for that kind of game. I wonder if the Nintendo DS, with it's pen input, would be up to an interface like this? Probably not, as it's not realy designed for physics.

Why replicate a desktop? (2, Interesting)

wmwilson01 (912533) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581675)

It's a very cool demo, but if you were going to avoid doing the really hard work of coming up with a new way to look at how to organize our computer workspaces, why wouldn't you at least settle for a bookshelf metaphor instead of a desktop... again? I mean, wouldn't that be a better match for the use than just a desktop? My desk doesn't have anything on it but my phone and computer. My bookshelf, however, has all of the references, software, and even pictures. The only folks I know that really do have stuff on their physical desktop are mostly untidy and need some help with organization anyways.

This is a TRANSITIONAL tool (2, Interesting)

MikeyTheK (873329) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581720)

I understand the whole real-world-metaphor drawback. I think that we're missing the point - that this is an excellent transitional tool to a paperless work area.

Part of what we all are failing to consider here is that we need desktop managers because the desktops on our copmputers are comparatively small to the desktops we actually work at in the real world, due to screen resolution restrictions vs. our ability to see things that are small. Face it. We are taking a 48" x 30-36" desk and trying to compress it onto a 17", 19", 21", 30" monitor IN MOST CASES. I know that most of us as geeks probably have two or three monitors on our desks, but if you compare that screen space relative to your real desk, it's like trying to run your office life off an end-table in your living room.

The problem isn't that computers can't replace paper, the problem is that we don't have the number of pixels for the average user to make that proposition appetizing to the average user. Everything we can do to improve that situation makes the dream of going paperless more reachable.

Re:This is a TRANSITIONAL tool (1)

insanarchist (921436) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581829)

I think I've envisioned a powerful, elegant solution to your "small desktop" problem! Imagine the ability to put virtual "folders" on your desktop, only instead of getting physically bigger and bigger with every item you "store" in it, it just stays the same size. Then (here's the best part), you can "open" the "folder" in another invention I like to call a "window", which you can open and close as well! It gets technical from there, but you get the general idea...

Pen as Interface... (1)

VorpalRodent (964940) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581758)

Instead of a pen as an interface, why not something people will be familiar with in time...the Wiimote. With a couple wiimotes, you could do all kinds of realworld office activities.

You could make a ripping motion to delete a document, or a throwing-it-across-the-room motion to turn off the computer.

With just a little bit more work put into how we interact with this interface, we could make the computer so much like working on a real desktop that no one would ever want to spend more that a few minutes there at a time.

It would be a revolution in efficiency reduction.

No captions/names? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15581773)

Where are the file names?

The interactions of this system seem compelling, but the icons tell us very little information about what the file actually is. Sure, we can rifle through a stack of icons ... but how do we identify the information by concise text label? And once captions are turned on, what does that do to the visual clutter and usefulness of the environment?

While it was great to watch the different interactions possible with this system, use in a file system seems less than ideal. As a photo organization system (and other apps with limited scope) there's a lot of promise.

This is an interesting concept for... (1)

ECXStar (533351) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581778)

Tablet PC's. It is a very cool demo and I'm sure that MSFT will be calling on these guys.

Picasa 3 (1)

Serengeti (48438) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581816)

Something like this would be GREAT in a Photo management suite. As the demonstration was playing, I couldn't see myself using this on my desktop, but started falling in love with the idea of using it in to organise my documents -- especially all of my pictures.

didn't someone demo this... (1)

anexium (591672) | more than 7 years ago | (#15581914)

didn't someone (apple?) demo somthing like this a couple of months ago, only instead of using a pen they had a big touch screen (laying flat not vertical minority report stylee). i remember the demo showed someone moving and resizing pictures by 'grabbing' the sides/corners and just moving them.

if i had a better memory, i'd be able to give more information...

I always knew (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15581941)

that obnoxious paperclip that comes with M$ Office would come in handy one day.


Clippy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15581991)

Wow... now we can use even more clippys to help us while we work. Imagine, Clippy everywhere, mostly in Explorer!

To much play and to little usablity (2, Interesting)

grumbel (592662) | more than 7 years ago | (#15582017)

Its a nifty demo, but sadly that type of interface is like 95% pure toying around, it doesn't make navitagion easier, it doesn't give you a better overview, it doesn't even try to provide a fulltext search, instead you can now move the same unintuitive icons around with physics engine... yeah, great... The first thing I would expect from any 'new' kind of interface is that makes icons go away, completly, and while at it, throw the applications out of the windows as well. I mean where is the use in having a dozen equally looking pdf icons? Why don't do the really intuitive thing instead and present the document itself instead of an icon to abstract it? The demo also shows that shortly, however it isn't able to handle that well, since there seems to be a completle lack of zooming, thus you only get very few documents visible on screen, which really isn't so much better of what we have today. Now simply adding zoom on the other side wouldn't be enough either, since you don't only want to zoom into a thumbnail, but you want to zoom into the document itself, so you don't get to launch an app, but instead just zoom into the document since it is large enough to read it. Now this has some problems itself, like where do you pack the menu and toolbars or how to handle multiple documents at once or how to actually zoom (press a button or use mousewheel or some completly new control device (Wiimote)?), but the demo doesn't even try to solve those problems, instead we simply get old icons rendered in 3d with physics engine, which is nifty to look at for a minute, but doesn't really help much at all.

To those interesting in new interface ideas I recomment to read The Humane Interface by Jef Raskins, who really does propose a new style of interface that is both a lot more intuitive then what we have today as well as a lot more efficient, instead of just adding bell and whistles like most other 'new' interfaces do.
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