Thursday 15 May 2008

Gesture and touch based interfaces - a new era coming?

Just read an article on TechCrunch about a new Microsoft reserach project called Touchwall. Basically it's a hardware/software system that uses gestures for navigation. While not being an entirely new line of thinking (MIT and others have done extensive research into this for decades), it represents what I believe is a trend that may result in gesture and touch based human interfaces as the primary navigation device for screen based media.

For those of us who work in the field of developing interactive media experiences, it poses a challenge and an opportunity: While we are used to making interface design for clicks and keyboard input, touch and gestures call for different thinking. Apple's coverflow and expose systems are can be easily adapted while Reactable and Microsoft Surface are good examples but slightly further from native OS implementation. And hey, let's not forget the Nintendo Wii, which has undoubtedly proven it's genius.

The clue about the Wii is that since it's primary use is not writing, there is no need for the old clonky human interface devices that are usually assigned to digital devices: The keyboard and mouse. As far as I'm concerned, mobile web browsers that adapt normal web content and even implement a mouse pointer are really going the wrong way - let's make content with navigation that fits the device!

As for new opportunities, consider using a Touchwall display at bus shelters and boards where the users can get close enough to interact. Where you are currently just presented with a printed time table for buses, the bus company could instead give you the whole world at your fingertips. Outdoor display advertising is facing a digital revolution as soon as display production cost crosses the line of being cheaper than print and manual labour to replace boards.

Anyone else than me who finds this very exciting?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I find it very exciting - am in fact eagerly awaiting some creative concepts based on this technology :-)

    More news on this?