This week’s comic is rather tongue-in-cheek (as I suppose most of our strips by definition are). The movie in question is also a little old but we weren’t around last year to make fun of it so we’re making up for lost time.
I actually think there are some very interesting and potentially useful applications to the interface used by Colin Farrell and Tom Cruise in Minority Report but when the movie was released last year, I grew pretty tired of my friends asking for my opinion on it as though it was the coolest interface since the mouse was invented. I couldn’t help but notice as I was watching the movie that there were several scenarios where the computer was literally performing “do what i think” levels of interaction, requiring a fair amount of suspension of disbelief. It’s a movie about the future, I’m willing to grant that, but when all your friends who think their HCI friend should love this movie on the grounds of a cool idea, I have to bring at least one foot back into the plane we call reality.
There is certainly room for gesture interfaces. Videogames, always more willing and able to experiment with new interfaces, have proven thus with simple gesture recognition with games like Para Para Paradise which have been particularly popular in Japan. The Eye Toy for the PlayStation 2 is another example of direct manipulation of a game through player motion. Will we see these applied to non-entertainment applications? Undoubtedly so. Are they the next big thing? Only if a number of other technologies, like eye tracking, support it sufficiently at an economical cost to the consumer … and even then, we’ve proven that you can build bad interfaces no matter what input device is being used.
Just as the prosect of speech driven interfaces conjures the idea of a maddenly cacphonous workplace, the idea of full arm gestural interfaces (a la minority report) has me re-envisioning the workplace as an aerobics class. Probably the biggest win for this kind of interface is that it films well.
More seriously though, I am a fan of smaller scale gestural interfaces. The human hand has far more dexterity and muscle memory than a regular mouse could ever take advantage of. When I play the piano, my fingers can pour through complex actions which I learned 14 years ago (you can see the same virtuosity in users of vi). Beyond muscle memory, fingers and hands also have reasonable dynamic range in the force they can provide. Here’s a rudimentary example of how you might use this:
Archives are now up and running. Considering we have all of three strips out, your actual click count hasn’t improved when navigating to any particular strip. In fact, using the “First” and “Previous” comic links will get you to the others in one click. Next year, though, you’ll thank me for saving you from RSI.