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Friday, July 21, 2006

The "Minority Report" UI

Those who have seen this movie (or recent Dixons/Currys TV ads in the UK) will remember the cool UI operated entirely by waving hands at a screen.

Some months ago, Jeff Han's prototypes using a Frustrated Total Internal Reflection (FTIR) panel appeared. Of particular note was that the panel supports the sensing of several simultaneous contacts (e.g. several finger tips) and that, with some colleagues, he had produced some really cool demos. (via Media Influencer)

An alternate approach is being pursued by Microsoft's Andy Wilson. His PlayAnywhere (video, paper) uses a projector and camera so that arbitary objects can be given arbitrary meanings ("when you see a phone, attempt a bluetooth connection", "when you see a piece of paper, project a video onto it", "when you see a patient x-ray, mark it up with relevant metadata", etc.) and of course the cool gestural interface can be provided (cue Microsoft Earth, or indeed Google Maps). In this latter case, the resemblance to the Minority Report UI is even closer as no actual contact with a screen is required, hand gestures are being interpreted directly; in one respect it's an improvement in that no laser-equipped gloves are required to drive it. (also via Media Influencer)