Monday, December 10, 2007

Interfaces of the future

It's been a pretty slow couple of weeks on the kiosk news front, hence the lack of posts. Guess it's just that time of year. But I did come across a pretty neat article recently about the future of user interfaces -- and I'm not talking about getting rid of the desktop, I'm talking about getting rid of the mouse, monitor and keyboard. As Smashing Magazine notes, a couple of companies are doing some pioneering work in the area of haptics, motion capture, and advanced visualization that could easily find their way into next generation "experiential" tools like Reactrix has done and Microsoft's Surface is threatening to do.

One of the most impressive is a new display tech by Cheoptics360, which generates a 3-D hologram in midair without viewers having to wear any silly headgear. Talk about product promotions -- this thing can show virtually anything that will fit in a 5x5 meter (15'x15' for us imperialists) area. While it'd be expensive to show off clothes and inexpensive packaged goods, I could easily see such a device used to show off different colors and options packages for expensive, high-margin products like cars, boats and RVs, where the experience of navigating the product can add a lot to the sales pitch.

My other favorite device from the not-to-distant future of computer interfaces is the Reactable multi-touch interface. Like Surface, it can follow multiple touchpoints simultaneously, and allow for all of those flashy user interface effects that we've seen. However, this tech specializes in following objects moved across its surface too. While the current demo is just that -- a demo with no real commercial value -- I could see something like this extending into a high-tech price scanner that recognizes a shopped item placed on top of it, and provides the visitor with an engaging interactive experience featuring product details, price, inventory levels and content well-suited towards the device's interactive nature (perhaps a lesson on how to fold a shirt placed on top of it, for example).

Granted, none of this stuff will see the light of day without some kind of "killer app." And while the gee-whiz effect is certainly still responsible for a lot of high-tech purchases destined for the retail sales floor, the amount spent on such eye-candy continues to pale in comparison to the amount spent on the old stalwarts of the industry (like touch screen kiosks and ePOS), which while no longer cool or flashy, continue to drive lots of transactions and have a timely and predictable ROI.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

GestureTek ( is the world leader and patent holder gesture recognition technology. They’ve got some interesting immersive media technology where people can actually see themselves onscreen as they play games or manipulate content on digital signs and displays. GestureTek also created the world’s largest interactive multi-touch surface computing table last year for an Australian tourist attraction called the Eureka Tower. []. Companies like Samsung and Electrosonic are using GestureTek interactive surface computing tables, allowing users to control multimedia content, play games, manipulate special effects, draw and manipulate art and photographs, or view advertising.

Here’s a video on GestureTek’s multi-touch table: mms://

Here’s a video that shows what GestureTek’s doing in point and control, responsive media, virtual gaming and immersive advertising. [mms://].