Thursday, January 29, 2009

Interacting With Web 3.0 Via Mobile Devices

So, I've been looking around at the world the last few months and seeing a future we discussed at the Media Lab start to emerge. Mobile video projectors are getting attached to the cloud. At the same time, video and GIS tools are creating a rich 3D dataset of the physical world.

Samsung announced a video projector/cellphone at CES. (here's anupdated video...The previous video was removed)

MERL Has been exploring how devices like this could become interactive.

Tools like Photosynth could, theoretically, create a correlated 3D map of virtual spaces.

What does it mean when you can interact with any physical surface and possibly see how the surface has been "touched" before?

Here's an inspirational video

The Unfinished Swan - Tech Demo 9/2008 from Ian Dallas on Vimeo.

There has been alot of talk about semantic web/web 3.0. I think what may be missing from this conversation is the dominant interface for web 3.0 will be mobile devices...and it will be used to create context aware environments.

How might this work? What might this mean?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Samsung / Sapient / Coca-Cola Dispenser

Does anyone know what sort of sensor they are using on this? It's an interesting concept, but seems destined for durability issues.

Doing some back of the napkin math...If the hardware lasts 12 months (probably less than that...), I'm guessing Coke would ask a ~$2000 markup on a standard machine (about twice the typical price) add in $500 in power consumption. That's $2500.

Say the bottles net $.65 each. The machine would need to sell 10 additional bottles a day to break even. Probably 20 to be worth the risk.

Makes sense in high circulation areas like airports and Disneyland, not so much for the office cafeteria.

Gesture Tek's Viral Marketing Push

GestureTek's prime licensee, Reactrix went belly up last month.

They have put up three videos in the past 48 hours...looks like they are out trying to generate new work.

To my understanding, core chunks of Gesturetek's IP expire this year. [GestureTek just contacted me to say this is in fact innaccurate. I look forward to getting to the bottom of this. Special thanks to Patti from G-Tek for keeping us honest] It will be interesting to see what the market does with them.

Looking at these videos and the blog-o-sphere, it seems that a Gesturetek/Adobe/Nuigroup/Google consortium may be form to compete with the boys from Redmond. Is this true?

Do clients want the size flexibility of open-source custom tables over the standardized safety of Surface-like devices?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What the Microsoft Layoffs Mean For Surface

Microsoft had a bad quarter...a really bad quarter. It is set up to have a wretched year.

What's harder to remember is that MS still NETS over $150,000 per employee...Yet, MS is trying to save 1.5% ($700m) of its annual gross by cutting ~2,500 jobs this year(5000 over 18 months)? Steve Ballmer's argument just doesn't add up.

The layoffs aren't about missing its guidance. An inordinate number of the shareholders are the same employees MS will be axing.

This Layoff is About Refocusing.

Microsoft is really good at operating systems. Windows and Office support the rest of the business. If I were Steve Ballmer, I would be staring long and hard at the Entertainment & Devices Division (home of Surface). The division has been either a loss leader or minimally profitable since its founding.

- XBox hardware is finally doing alright. It is in a strong #2 position.

- Games Publishing has and will continue to lag. E&DD could quickly pare down development on the glut of "me too" titles.

- Microsoft's mobile business has been disappointing, but it needs to hold this position.

- Zune really should fold into the mobile effort, that's a good place to save.

This Leaves Us with Surface.

Robbie Bach, president of the division, has repeatedly considered killing Surface. $12,500 kiosks are a hell of a business to build in this economy. The hardware margins will never match those of software...And it doesn't fit into Bach's mandate.

The mission of ED&D is to develop an integrated hardware/software product line that goes head to head with Apple. Surface doesn't fit neatly into this picture and won't until large projected capacitive displays mature.

ED&D has set itself up for a bloody fight in the domestic consumer space. It's got Apple on the left and the jokers at HP/Sony/Samsung to the right.

Apple's interests aren't and can't be aligned with Microsoft's. Apple also has a lot of cash on hand. This warchest will only grow as it continues its push into international markets.

Bach needs to drop the expenses related to Surface to sure up bigger lines of business.

Here's My Guess for Surface.

MS can leverage the marketing coffers of partners at HP, Sony and Samsung by sharing the multitouch pie.

Microsoft really has no business manufacturing its own hardware. Hopefully, MS's stake in N-Trig will convince them to step under the Surface brand umbrella. Surface touch enabled products could then be sold through said partners.

N-Trig's hardware is sweet for smaller consumer products, but it's a couple of years away from matching Surface's durability and reliability in tabletop kiosk situations.

Hopefully, the vision-based Surface hardware platform will continue to evolve. An array of next generation laser projectors might solve the cost, lamp replacement, heat dissipation and form factor issues that plague the current hardware. The knowhow to do something like this already exists. Implementation and channel marketing could and should be developed and produced in partnership with HP or Dell.

Paradoxically, this is good news for the multitouch software market.

If Microsoft stops dawdling in the hardware space, the Surface SDK can settle in where it belongs: In the Windows division. The Windows division has the real money at MS and it has a good reason to direct its resources toward expanding the market for WPF/multitouch.

Everyone on earth will need a new copy of Windows...and a new HP/Samsung/Dell Surface touchscreen.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Seamlessly Integrating Physical Artifacts With Media

I love this little test by Peter Kunci because the meaning of the physical artifact is changed by the projected content. At one moment, it is an empty picture frame. The next it's a tray.

Archive Tray from Parker Kuncl on Vimeo.

This demo suggests another idea as well...why does the interactive surface always have to be interactive? Can't it just be a table or a wall most of the time?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Portable Microsoft Surface?

I'm guessing this is a spoof, but it's awful well done for vaporware. Maybe it is a leak after all.

Microsoft's multitouch branding is COMPLETELY confused right now.

Using Surface as an umbrella brand for its impending suite of .wpf/hardware multitouch solutions is a very compelling idea. If this is actually happening, a major shakeup within the consumer/devices/entertainment parts of the organization is also in the works. Could this be related to the recent investment in N-Trig????

What are your thoughts?

Cool Video Demo from Nsquared

One of the core advantages of "true" multitouch is the ability for multiple user to interact with the same content at the same time. While we have seen a number of demos that allow this, they have relied on social norms to enforce a "turn-based" interaction model.

Many of the demos in this vid. are very, very simple, but they point to the potential of synchronous collaboration.

What do you think?

Surface Object Recognition Demo from Wirestone

It looks like they are doing some interesting things with measuring outline. I'd love to know how they are identifying the two different sunglass lenses...

What do you think?

Video of Multitouch Collaboration Tool

Here's a great multitouch previsualization from Dominic Kennedy, a senior at Fachhochschule Aachen, Germany. from Dominic Kennedy on Vimeo.

Here's his website:

While the video is chock-full of usability issues, it's great to see compositing tools being used. We do a lot of After Effects previz to show ideas to clients and highly recommend it!

It's nice to see that he is exploring many elements of the interaction framework we outlined earlier this month.

I would be interesting to see more exploration of depth and of subtle cues that suggest/remind users which ideas were interesting and help enhance exploration. My colleague, Win Burleson does a lot of research into this area.

Here's the link to his research at ASU.

His PhD. project at the MIT Media Lab also suggests interesting ideas about sensing and cues in learning and creative environments.

How might Dominic take his project to the next level? Comments please :~}

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Steve Jobs to take medical leave at Apple

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said Wednesday he would take a medical leave of absence through June, saying his health issues "are more complex than I originally thought."

In an email to employees released by the tech giant, Jobs said he would take the leave of absence "in order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products."

Jobs, who disclosed on January 5 that he was being treated for a "hormone imbalance," said that since that time "I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought."

"I have asked (chief operating officer) Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple's day-to-day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job," he added.

"As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan."


Multitouch Controls in Win7 / WPF 4.0

Microsoft's Reed Townsend and Anson Tsao talk about:
- Designing for the next generation of Windows
- Surface controller development roadmap
- WPF controller roadmap

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Monday, January 12, 2009

Microsoft Invests in N-Trig, the Multitouch Sensor Manufacturer

Microsoft is among the companies investing US$24 million in N-trig, a developer of multitouch technology.

Other investors in the Israeli company include Aurum Ventures, Challenger, Canaan Partners and Evergreen Partners.

More info here and here

Doing Geo-Dispersed Collaboration with Multitouch

This is some old stuff from Andy Wilson at MSR.

I am actually realy surprised that a lot of this thinking hasn't ended up being explored on Surface yet. It seem like the easiest opportunity for Surface to really reinvent interaction.
3D Modelling and unmediated interaction

Any thoughts on this? Is the resolution of Surface too low?


Video of Dan Saffer Speaking at IXDA NY

This video is a great overview of his book. I think it's about an hour, but hey. It's research.

NYC IxDA - Tap is the New Click - Dan Saffer from Interaction Design Association on Vimeo

CES Multitouch Roundup

Touch TV is Showing Off Touch System

While this looks really cool, I have two big issues, Fatigue and Affordances.
Fatigue: If this is meant to be and "associate assisted device, as the presenter suggests, that associate is going to end up with some serious "Gorilla Arms" from holding their hands in the air all day. The presenter's argument is that this thing eliminates the cost of the circular...but what about the medical costs of a fulltime clerk with a nasty case of monkey arms?

Affordances: What is cueing users to find "secondary content" or to explain which content can be dragged and dropped?

Layout: Paradoxically, little old ladies get so pissed off at customer service that they frequently early adopt technology solutions in retail. With controllers on the bottom and top of the display, this layout seems like it is going to be really difficult for large swaths of the audience to use.

This demo, also from Touch TV Networks, shows how a multitouch device might be used as a directional kiosk. I appreciate the 3D visualization of the store/mall. I do wonder if the whole thing would be easier to use if the controllers were buttons below the map...and the map drew an animated arrow from where the visitor is to where they want to be...Little old ladies would likey that.

I like scatter views because they afford usage. They afford usage because they make your interface look disheveled though. Isn't there a better solution?

Meet the Pre, Palm's Upgrade from the Treo

It has some interesting gesture solutions...I still think Apple will continue to lock this market up.


Look how the device shakes everytime the presenter touches the display. A multitouch display on a pressure hinge...are they nuts?

MS-NBC And Microsoft Continue Their Unholy Co-marketing Agreement

I like that two devices use the same tag to perform a task, but this just seems awkward. Please, tell me why?

Stupid Al Roker Doing Something Stupid With Surface Actually, the demo looks like fun. I just have a thing with Al Roker. Go Vectorform!

An Update. I ran into Frances Calandra of Vectorform today at the NRF Big Show. The app is actually fun, but it doesn't engage for very long. ~:45 to 1:00 minute.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

An Odd Multitouch Restaurant Table in London

What do y'all think of this?

Multitouch Video Editing App

Here's a nice video from a student at University of Hasselt in Belgium. I like that they are looking to solve a complex task and deal with mode changes.

While the video shows a range of interesting gesture and controller concepts, it would really benefit from four things:

- Marrying Content to the Controllers
It is generally faster and easier to use controllers that are either embedded in or associated with the relevant content.

- Afford What the Content and Controllers Do

The way objects animate into existence tells users a lot about how to use them.

- Finding Ways to Order Content by Relevance

It would be incredibly easy to get lost in a video production project of greater complexity than the one shown.

- Putting a "Right Click" Context Menu at Users Fingertips

It would be much faster to have a "quick menu" that would pop up based on a gesture than to continually drag down to the menubar at the bottom to change tools and modes. BTW. Solutions like this really only work with expert systems and should be redundant to visible controllers.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009