I’ve quickly mentioned about the graphical user interface modern trends in my previous post about the history of Graphical User Interface, but it’s just a drop in the ocean. The GUI concept consistently hands over positions; the mentioned post-WIMP is just a beginning of something new, which comes to replace the previous interface era. And this new thing has already got the name: Natural user interface (NUI).
Image Source: Wikipedia
Natural user interface is clearly intuitive; it annuls the GUI’s need to learn how to interact with the interface, which lately tends not to ease the user’s experience and discovery, but makes suggestions and recommendations. The author of the term NUI is Steve Mann: he personally devised few strategies opposite to ancient Command-Line Interface and now typical Graphical User Interface in last three decades of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, some researchers state NUI is not contrary to GUI, because in most cases the first one includes visual elements, which are the constant component of the second one; anyway, I’m talking about the whole concept, not just the technology aspect – and no one can deny the NUI is a true surrogate for WIMP.
Still can hardly imagine what Natural User Interface is? Well, as an example I can suggest a hydraulophone – a musical instrument that starts to play by physical interaction with fluid, mainly water. Hydraulophone was invented by the aforementioned pioneer of NUI Steve Mann. For clearer understanding of the instrument’s function mechanism just watch the video that demonstrates the hydraulophone musical performance.
By the way, the thing Mr. Mann has on his eye while playing is another NUI device called EyeTap. This curious gear works as a camera that records the scenes the eye sees.
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But let’s move back to computing. The precursor of the NUI can be called the Multi-touch. It’s too relativistic statement, because actually this technology just could sometimes include the availability of the Natural User Interface, though traditionally Multi-touch uses GUI. But we are talking about the harbinger, right? Moreover, Multi-touch gave strong impetus for post-WIMP paradigm, which leads directly to NUI.
The modern tendencies can even astonish in some way with their features that could be perceived as futuristic. Here are some of them.
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Jefferson Han developed the NUI concept in multi-touch technology. The demonstration showed some of the features such as controlling by direct manipulations and gestures. The interface is metaphor-free and rather intuitive in managing. As you can see from the picture below, the technology reminds military screens from the Hollywood films. Indeed, the Multi-Touch Collaboration Wall was initially developed by Perseptive Pixel for military applications. Anyway, this monitor gained popularity on public for using it on CNN.
Image Source: The 4Cast
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Guys from Microsoft are smart: they quickly got the trend and in result acquired Perseptive Pixel, with all their progressive developments. Microsoft PixelSense, an interactive surface computing platform, welcomes us with the known idea of Perseptive Pixel’s reaction to gestures and motions, but the technology improved with the identification of objects put on the top of it, with further opportunity to interact with them through the PixelSense device. Microsoft promotes the platform together with a certain kind of a computer table Samsung SUR40, just check out the video below.
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3D Immersive Touch User Interface
This type of Natural User Interface is focused on 3D. 3D Immersive Touch is strongly associated with Eduism project aimed to upgrade the educational methods through 3D virtual sureface integration in the studying or training process.
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This is my favorite one. The reason is the device is really awesome: xBox Kinect ostensibly materialized from the sci-fi literature or cinematography. The device doesn’t need any game controller; the interaction is totally managed by spatial gestures. As for me, Kinect appears to become one more step to virtual reality.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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The technology world is changing so fast that you new fresh bought device, for example smartphone, is obsolescing every second. Most probably it has already had more advanced successor the day you bought it. So don’t be surprised if tomorrow NUI, post-WIMP, 3D, direct physical interaction etc. will become the common case. They will do anyway: if not tomorrow, then the day after tomorrow. This post is just giving a chance to take a look what kind of life anticipates us. You have more useful info to share with people? Please do it in the comments.
About the author:
Art Rivera: Deeply interested in everything connected with Internet, I sincerely suppose the web is the only future reality for the humanity through its inevitable involving into every part of human life. I’m not a great fan of cyberpunk concept, but the world is keeping that certain direction of total connectedness. And of course there should be someone, who can write the history, who would describe and analyze and enter in the record all notable changes and tendencies on the web. Hello, it’s me.