The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'human interface'
Cliff Kushler, one of the inventors of the T9 text-entry system used on most mobile phones made over the past decade, has developed a new, amazingly fast text entry system for touch-screen devices. Named Swype, the system displays an on-screen keyboard; though, instead of tapping individual keys, the user merely scribbles on the keyboard, joining the letters of the desired word, and the system finds the appropriate word and enters it:
The video is quite impressive; in it, Kushler demonstrates the system, entering a sentence and, at one point, scribbling on the keyboard for a fraction of a second and producing the word "Mississippi".
The prototype of Swype has been implemented on PC tablets and Windows Mobile phones, though the technology is up for licensing. The question on everybody's lips is probably whether Apple will grab it for the iPhone (or, indeed, buy Kushler out and lock it up as an iPhone/Mac exclusive; assuming, of course, no serious prior art). Assuming that it remains non-exclusive, this looks like an excellent fit for the Android architecture. Android is a pluggable system, in which applications aren't programs as such but objects which provide various services (such as composing an email, showing an image or, indeed, entering text). A Swype text-entry plug-in for Android would be fairly easy to create.
(via Wired News)
An Australian human-interface innovation I hadn't heard of until now: the Marshalite, an early analogue traffic signal developed in the 1930s. Unlike modern pedestrian crossings (with the exception of those in some US cities), it not only displayed whether crossing the road was permitted, but gave an indication of how much time pedestrians had to cross, in the form of a clock face. The downside of the Marshalite was that, being mechanical, it was not adjustable, and worked on the assumption that traffic lights had a fixed duration. (And changing the speed of the moving hands is not an option; people would make assumptions about what the hand at a specific position would mean, and could not be expected to look at it long enough to gauge the speed.) At some point, they started adjusting the lengths of traffic lights to better manage traffic, and the Marshalites were all replaced by the now ubiquitous red/green man.
(via Boing Boing Gadgets)
Real life gets a little closer to hard science fiction: NASA scientists have developed a system that responds to subvocalised commands; i.e., sentences you "speak" in your head. It does this by analysing nerve commands to the throat using sensors. It can only recognise a small fixed number of words, so it's of no use for silently talking on the phone to someone, at least not until they make it drive a speech synthesiser. (via bOING bOING)
Via message-threading algorithm guru jwz, a new way of showing message threads, as a 2-dimensional diagram not unlike underground railway maps. Which looks pretty nifty; of course, as it's from Microsoft Research and undoubtedly patent-pending, don't hold your breath for it to appear in the latest GNOME suite, unless you can go for 20 or so years without oxygen.
Douglas Rushkoff on why 3G phones-as-TVs are a daft idea: (via Techdirt)
These are essentially three different scales of devices. To use the American measures: inch devices, foot devices, and yard devices - and each has a particular range of appropriate functions... Inch devices, like cell phones, pagers, and PDAs, are for a single person's use, and are unique for their ability to help a person deliver important information from anywhere. Their screens are not for reading, but for eyeballing or copying a fact or figure that will most likely be used on that very device. Stock quotes, weather forecasts, or restaurant addresses are appropriate data points for a communications device on which you might make a trade, a date, or a business meeting. Yes, avid sports fans may want to check an important score (and then call their bookies) but do they want to watch a tiny, inscrutable image of a goal being kicked? No. They'll want to get home to see the event on their foot devices.
Ever wonder why Google have a copyright notice at the bottom of their (not exactly intellectual-property-rich) search page? It's not so much to appease the lawyers as it is to let you know where the page ends:
In its early days, the company asked some focus group participants to search for information using its site. But many people, when they went to Google, did nothing for a minute or two. When asked why, these apparent procrastinators said they were waiting for the rest of the site to load. So, the company thought that by putting a copyright notice on its page--something usually found only at the bottom of a fully loaded page--perhaps people would get the hint that the spartan page was fully loaded.
Scientists have found out that women need larger computer monitors for working in graphical environments than men do, because of their lower spatial processing ability. With a standard monitor giving a 35 degree viewing angle, women tend to be on average 20% slower than men at certain spatial tasks; given two screens with a 100 degree viewing angle, this difference disappears. If this is true, this could affect the big-arse monitor's significance as a macho status symbol.