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Input Devices GUI Software Technology

Ideas For the Next Generation In Human-Computer Interfaces 170

Singularity Hub writes "For decades our options for interacting with the digital world have been limited to keyboards, mice, and joysticks. Now with a new generation of exciting new interfaces in the pipeline our interaction with the digital world will be forever changed. Singularity Hub looks at some amazing demonstrations, mostly videos, that showcase new ways of interacting with the digital world." Along similar lines, reader shakuni points out a facial expression-driven user interface reported on News.com for operating, say, an iPhone, explaining "This device is tiny and fits into the ear and measures movements inside the ear due to changes in facial expression and then uses that as input triggers. So [tongue out] starts or stops your iPod Touch; [Wink] rewinds to the last song; and [smile] replays the same song."
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Ideas For the Next Generation In Human-Computer Interfaces

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  • voice control (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Keruo ( 771880 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @02:34PM (#27113623)

    When windows 95 arrived, I played around with its voice recognition.
    I wasnt quite impressed with it, since the only command I got working properly was "fuck" which caused the machine to reboot.

    Although voice control has interesting potential, its not optimal for most situations. (think open cubicle office)

  • by Tokerat ( 150341 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @02:36PM (#27113639) Journal

    I can see useful applications for this, but I hope there is a switch I have to depress while I make the gesture, plus a "hold" switch so I can lock gestures on or off at all times. For example, if I catch my wife cheating and I look stunned, I don't want that to accidentally to push the "panic" button on my car alarm so my nosy neighbor starts poking around during the ensuing drama. That would certainly be a small and silly example of this technology making life more difficult instead of better.

    ...not that I'd ever be able to get a wife (let alone a girlfriend), but at least I made a good car analogy ;-)

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @02:40PM (#27113669)
    I still think that people using BlueTooth headsets look like they're off their meds, walking down the street, talking to themselves. This'll open up whole new Vistas of crazy-looking people. Is he having a seizure or just skipping through his iPod's playlist?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 08, 2009 @02:55PM (#27113749)

    A facial expression driven interface is an absurd idea for the vast majority of users. People's hands are wired to move and manipulate objects. That is why our hands are so effective as "human output devices". Our facial expressions are tied to our emotions. Even if we can get around the weirdness of detaching smiles from happiness and winks from flirtation and so on, there's still the problem that doing that kind of stuff physically feels awkward if it has no emotional content behind it.

  • Re:voice control (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Superdarion ( 1286310 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @03:09PM (#27113831)
    Well yeah, but think about it: your brain can differentiante between your boss calling you a useless waste of oxygen from inside his office and the giggles from your coworkers on the outside.

    The aim for technology is, of course, that a microphone can do the same.

    And it makes sense that Windows would understand "Fuck", being the word that it hears the most.
  • Re:Ah-Choo! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @03:15PM (#27113873) Homepage
    This facial expression control system sounds like a great way to make speech recocognition seem unambiguous and reliable by comparison.
  • Re:voice control (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @03:59PM (#27114119)

    I don't think that's the only hurdle to overcome. In a lot of cases, I just don't think voice control is very useful beyond a novelty. I played with it a number of years ago. After a bit of training, it was recognizing my commands pretty well. Thing is, it was tedious as hell to do things with voice control. I spent 10x longer doing things simply for the novelty to doing it using voice commands.

    Seriously: for people who have ever done tech support this should be obvious: even with a human - whose reasoning skills are superior to the best voice recognition system out there, if I am standing there telling them what to do in order to perform an action on the computer, it takes all of 1 minutes before I'm asking them "You know, how about let me sit there for a second and I'll take care of it." (a nicer version of the "MOVE!" part from Jimmy Fallon's Nick Burns - The Company Computer Guy skit from SNL). Most of us can simply do things much faster with our hands than we can explain them.

    Now, if we could truly step into the realm of Star Trek and have virtual AI running the computer - then it might have some application (ie, "Computer - pull up a list of hotels in Miami on Labor Day weekend"). Otherwise, simply as a replacement input device, no matter how good it gets at recognizing commands I just don't see the use.

  • Blue sky (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YourExperiment ( 1081089 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @04:09PM (#27114183)

    While it's great that all this research into potential future interfaces is being done, a lot of them are terribly impractical. I just wish we could get the simple things right with our present day interfaces.

    How about a jog wheel / thumb wheel that actually allowed different speeds of movement (i.e. true analog) instead of being just a disguised rocker switch? How about a mouse wheel that didn't force me to move slowly through documents a line at a time, but instead had the same capability for fast and slow movement as the mouse sensor itself?

    These are things that would actually be useful now, and are simple to implement with current technology. Perhaps companies could get these right today, in addition to investing in all this blue sky research.

  • Re:voice control (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrBuzzo ( 913503 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:10PM (#27114549) Homepage
    Current generations of voice control are quite good and usable. It always seemed that voice control was central to human interface with computers in scifi visions of the future. Star trek and such, nobody ever interacts with the computers aside from asking them to do something. Other visions of the future always had voice control to turn up or down the temperature of a room and do other such things.

    That kind of thing is now entirely doable and entirely affordable with only nominal hardware. The accuracy is reasonably good. Yet it has never really taken off except in nitch markets. It works great for things like getting your cell phone to dial someone without having to look down and find the right buttons, but it's no threat to the mouse and keyboard.

    It has it's place for certain things, but it's not really that useful except as a novelty.
  • Re:Ah-Choo! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:22PM (#27114647)

    I see the good intentions here, but this is overall a bad idea. What would a sneeze do? God forbid you try to rock out with the hiccups or are congested with allergies. Its good have advancement but they really missed the point as far as practicality as far as I am concerned.

  • Re:Ah-Choo! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChangelingJane ( 1042436 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:51PM (#27114853)
    For ordinary everyday users, this is very impractical and even silly. But for quadriplegics, it could be something else entirely.
  • Re:voice control (Score:2, Insightful)

    by high_rolla ( 1068540 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @06:45PM (#27115261) Homepage

    Voice control has some potential but I think it is one of those technologies that should be a complement to existing input mechanisms (ie keyboard and mouse).

    eg. When doing my normal work I want to use keyboard and mouse as it is more efficient and flexible. Then the phone rings, I pick it up and shortly into the conversation I realise that this is going to be a longer conversation. At which point I just say "computer, save document" rather than having to go back to the keyboard and mouse to do so.

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.