Thursday, March 09, 2006

Reading as driving


MIT researchers have developed an intersting new experimental reading interface called Speeder Reader where the reader uses a steering wheel to "steer" to various textual material and a gas pedal to scroll the text to the point where the reader's eyes are focused. The gas pedal can be used to speed up or slow down reading.

Fascinating!

Blog update: March 16, 2006
Microsoft isn't far behind with this "incorporate foot into interface" trend. They are working on what they call a StepUI as reported by PhysOrg. Here is MS's justification:

"When you drive a car, play a piano or operate a sewing machine, you deftly use both your hands and your feet. Why don't we do that with a computer?" reads a StepUI project description. The project, which currently includes prototype e-mail and photo navigation software, has put forward the idea that while foot-based motions are certainly not more efficient than using a keyboard and mouse, they can supplement the motions and increase efficiency. "
Here's an application:
During a demonstration of the technology, an employee maneuvered through several programs via a floor-based dance pad controller similar to the one used for Konami's best-selling Dance Revolution movement game. From then on, he began to navigate through an e-mail program, stamping out unwanted spam mail before moving over to a customized photo program and beginning to organize a photo catalog via the dance pad.
Nice idea, though we can expect Microsoft to mess the whole thing up. Eventually, a teeny three person startup will produce a really good application which MS will buy up and market as its own. MS really doesn't have a choice -- it has too many smart people with too much of of time and money to produce really simple, elegant designs (see my March 16 post on complexity and organizations).


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