We hear this question more than you might think. It all started in 2002 with a not-so-great Tom Cruise movie where we got a peek at what the future of interaction between humans and computers could look like: cool. If you saw the movie you know exactly what I'm talking about - if you missed this one (and you can live a rewarding life having done so) then you've surely seen what I'm talking about in subsequent science fiction works such as Avatar, Iron Man, The Avengers, The Hunger Games, Oblivion, Ender's Game, et. al. The future looks like us Kung fu-gesticulating in thin air at flashing screens to collate, correlate, codify, combine, and otherwise compose information and resources to achieve more cogent communication with our peers.
Beyond looking cool, however, an interface that makes use of natural gestures speaks to our humanity by letting us manipulate data the way we would manipulate something in the physical world such as a hand saw, a socket wrench, or a spatula. But the psychology of why this kind of user interface has merit is really beyond the scope of this post. I'm more interested in letting you know that, as author William Gibson said, "The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed."
At KONTEK we work with equipment manufacturers such as Extron, Crestron, and other AV industry fixtures to suggest new features, apply pressure when necessary, and affect change - and it's working. We test equipment and try to push the limits so that we can help your organization collaborate better... that we help make you look like you're from the future while doing it? Well that's just icing on the cake.
Take a few minutes and and let this brief TED talk from 2010 wash over you. Imagine how an interface like this can work in your organization and actually enhance productivity. This talk is by John Underkoffler and it's about the state of cutting edge user interface research. It's very good at getting the creative juices flowing and imagining what the future of interactive collaboration can look like.
At a recent trade show I got to interact with some cutting edge collaboration technologies that were all influenced in some way by that forward-thinking movie and the work of Underkoffler.
Products are shipping today from Microsoft's no-nonsense Surface Hub to the "Whoa... am I on a spaceship?" iWall by MultiTaction. There's the incredibly accessible Bluescape platform which is simultaneously intuitive and useful. T1 Visions has a strong offering with unique features too. The closest you'll get to channeling your inner Tom Cruise, however, is Underkoffler's own company: Oblong and their Mezzanine product.
Jonathan is a senior software developer at Kontek. He has been creating buttons for audio/video customers to squish on touch screens since shortly after the 1998 debut of the Philips Pronto, a 3.8 inch monochrome resistive LCD affair done up in heinous green plastic. He spends a great deal of his time staring blankly at ATMs, self check-out terminals, and other user interfaces in an effort to understand the psychology behind their design. Jonathan has been with Kontek since 2005.