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Technology You Might Want To Get Your Hands On

[ Comments Off ]Posted on November 21, 2009 by admin in Technology

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

In home, motion-simulator iMax theater, epic marketing failure, and a device that any nerdy gamer guy would love to get his hands on, the BRA CONTROLLER.

Who wouldn’t want a motion simulator
chair like the DreamFlyer right in their
own home? Well, anybody who’s
not a total freaking nerd, I guess.

The information highway is littered with the debris of half-baked ideas for interface and input devices. Vintage sci-fi movies like Lawnmower Man and Johnny Mnemonic suggested a future in which we’d all be living partially in some kind of virtual world, wearing goggles and gloves to interact with it. Well, VR gloves do exist, but a quick look at a product like CyberGrasp raises the reasonable question: Why? Recently a friend was telling me about how cool their Wii was because of the fact that the shooting game they were playing gave a recoil feeling in the remote. I told them I’d get excited about this kind of feature when I could feel the bad guys shooting back. For some slightly more practical applications of your Wiimote, check out developer Johnny Lee’s do-it-yourself projects for Minority Report-like multi-touch interactive interfaces. It’s a little like an iPhone for your whiteboard. Then there are some interesting twists on the mouse concept. You may remember the now extinct and not-so-cleverly named CueCat for instance. Some of us received these doodads free in the mail back around 2000, as part of an attempt to tie real-world products with information on the web via bar codes. Although the marketing failed, thousands of CueCats roaming the wilds led to a large hacker community. Around the same time you could also get a free keyboard called a RocketBoard. The only thing that made it unique was that it had a bunch of orange buttons that acted as hotkeys to connect you to soon-to-be-defunct Internet Bubble startups or dinosaurs like AOL. One of the few descendants of this kind of “trapped in the box” thinking is the Open Office Mouse, which, although developed with the Open Office platform in mind, possesses none of its functional genius. In fact it’s a rather ugly and cumbersome-looking doodad. With a wire attached, no less. But if odd and customizable multi-button input devices are your thing, you might get one and supplement it with the Ergodex DX-1, which, to be fair, at least looks like it would be of some use to people with cognitive, sight, or motor impairment. Then there are input devices which make sense or are at least rather clever in some way, like the TactaPad, which is sort of like a tactile Wacom Tablet, or the Swiftpoint TriPed, which is a smart multi-purpose stylus/mouse conceived for use with tablet PC’s. While clever, they’re probably a little too counterintuitive or niche-market oriented. And if you’re into that whole interactive and immersive tactile experience thing, maybe you should hook your gaming system up to a Predator Motion Simulator or a DreamFlyer, stick it in your VisionDomeĀ  personal iMax theater, and go ahead and put that CyberGrasp glove to use. Personally, if I were looking for a tactile input experience, I might opt for Jenny Chowdhury’s bra-powered Intimate Controllers. An input device I’m sure the typical thirty-going-on-thirteen male gamer would love to get his hands on. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Discount The Five-Finger Method

[ Comments Off ]Posted on October 16, 2009 by admin in Technology

Friday, October 16th, 2009

A cool touchscreen interface concept by 10GUI rethinks the window-based interface and explains why a standard touchscreen just doesn’t work for the desktop computer.

I’m always babbling about innovative laptops and cool user interfaces, but the video at left explaining a new user interface concept by 10GUI is probably the most insightful rethinking of the desktop that I’ve seen in a long time. As an interface designer myself, I think the iPhone (although I feel no need to own one myself) is probably the most brilliant personal computer interface to date. I’ve been dying to own a larger device that utilizes its multitouch features, which is why I’m always drooling over the idea of a Mac tablet or dual-touchscreen laptop, but have also often thought about how a lot of the features of a multitouch screen are actually antithetical to the realities of desktop use. This video by 10GUI references that, and offers a fantastic solution. I’d have to try the deeper levels of task and file management that they demonstrate in the video before I’d know if I agree with the solutions offered, but on the surface they make perfect sense. I’d love to see this interface integrated into a real device and try it. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, the nerd all the nerds love to hate (Michael Arrington) just (ahem) touched onĀ  this topic the other day over at TechCrunch. Read the rest of this entry »

Losing Touch With Computers

[ Comments Off ]Posted on November 16, 2008 by admin in Technology

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Gestural interfaces: the end of those filthy little things we call computer keyboards?

Other than watching Tom Cruise get abused by the Dr. Solomon Eddie character (played by persvasive creepy bad guy Peter Stormare), one of the coolest things about the film Minority Report was probably the gestural computer interface that Cruise’s character used in his police work. While many developers have been working on ideas like this for awhile, they often are not quite there – like this cool video demo, which is really just a huge iPhone-like multi-touch display – or they seem a bit misguided in their goals. Like Mgestyk Technologies, where they take a great idea and demostrate it with first-person shooter games. The clip seen here is the latest from Oblong, who seems to have the most sophisticated and practical system in operation. Not surprising, since they were consultants on the Minority Report effects, which were based on existing MIT work.

Sometimes You Just Have To (inter) Face The Music

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on November 1, 2008 by admin in Music, Technology

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Two Tune Tables and No Microphone

Years ago I had a dream in which I was playing an amazing instrument that responded to my hand gestures and thoughts, creating sublime, transcendent music that moved the soul. Then I woke up. The best that I had at my disposal at the time was still my electric guitar, because a velocity sensitive keyboard, although it’s pretty cool, had been around for awhile. The evolution of the musical instrument interface has amazing possibilities these days, as evident in the reactable project created by students at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. As is so often the case though, the same technology seems to be more immediately applicable to practical needs, like selling cocktails. The clip at left is the brick, a “Tangible & Multi Touch Sonification Instrument”. Which is one of the more creative and purposeful interfaces I’ve seen. Many of these concepts are clever, but end up being rather non-musical or like the reacTogon, just a a clever redesign of existing ideas. Coming at things from the other direction, Japanese artist Daito Manabe lets the music play him (YouTube clip). If you watch that video, you’ll get a feel for what it means to “surrender to your art”. That can’t feel good. Daito Manabe’s YouTube page is here; he also seems to do interesting public performance art projects like whitebase + Daito Manabe and disturbing video experiments like Milk. Yucky.

iLong For The Ultimate iThingy

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on October 4, 2008 by admin in Technology

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

What’s the opposite of a Luddite?

For years I’ve endured Microsoft Windows for business reasons, claiming I’d buy a Mac when the price was right. Well, the price finally became right – thanks to my friend Eric – who hooked me up with a lightly-used black MacBook. My new gizmo then led me to fantasize about the perfect laptop. I’ve always dreamed of an “all screen” device that blends a multi-touch user interface, scanner, and projection device in one lightweight package. Things are getting closer. The device pictured at left is a One Laptop Per Child concept, but Mac addicts are claiming that Apple is about to announce something very much like it. Combine the flexibilty of that interface with this inspired, “holographic shadow” interface (vimeo clip) and a digital pen, and all that’s missing is the scanner.

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