December 19, 2008

Redux: Touch UI and the Art of Intent

Some very interesting research into touch UI from Microsoft Research, University of Toronto, and the good folks at Mitsubishi (MERL's been doing some great work) illustrates how to improve the precision and efficacy of touch screen computing. This isn't strictly a technology problem (touch screens are pretty accurate) - its a human factors problem (an affordance issue).

I wrote on this a while ago - the mouse is pretty accurate, but one of the significant reasons I think it succeeded as an "intuitive" input device was that it created an interface paradigm that allowed "intent".

Touch screens allow us to create programmable input devices (the hardwares becomes "soft" - the rest is just wiring) - I don't think its tactility that's makes it intriguing.

While the article posits that they solve the "fat fingering" problem by allowing the interactive to happen "above" your fingers - that is, you can touch the front *and* back of the screen, I'll posit that its actually the recapturing of *intent* in the interaction flow that makes the difference here.

Judge for yourself:

In any case, pretty cool.

December 10, 2008

I've seen the future!

Not so much.

Microsoft Plans VR Simulation of Everything? (from slashdot)

"Microsoft's research chief has been
promoting the idea of commerce applications and other tools built on top of what he calls the 'Spatial Web', a blend of 3D, video, and location-aware technologies. He gave an example of a shopkeeper creating 3D models of his store's interior and goods with Photosynth and then uploading the results into a large 3D model of local shopping district. Customers could 'visit' the area, browse products, and order them for real-world delivery"

As a colleague of mine once said, quite some time ago:
"Sounds like Doom, without the fun"

(Or... was that me? Can't remember....)

December 9, 2008

Review: Best Javascript book EVER.

Douglas Crockford's "Javascript: the Good Parts" - go get it. Its concise, and takes you through the semantics of Javascript from first principles. Unlike most such books, which try to make learning JS easier by over-analogizing to other languages, Doug's book also highlights the differences from the very beginning - building a much better foundation for understanding the language, pros and cons.

Heartilty recommended regardless of your level of sophistication or intimacy with Javascript. At a minimum, you'll come away with a better framework for approaching your web applications. And if you're language geek, you'll just like it.

Plus, its concise.

Probably my favorite programming book since
the red book (level 1, natch).