Sunday, May 23, 2010

The future of UI...or at least where most of the money is going

When most people think of the future of UI they think about touch screens. At this point they are the pinnacle of intuitive and powerful interfaces. Examples include Microsoft Surface, BOA ATM machines and of course Apple's suite of devices, iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.
These devices have proven themselves as a staple UI for cutting edge technology; they allow custom interfaces to change dynamically and even have the added benefit of accepting finger input with various multitouch inputs.
There is another technology however that is starting to creep into the light, hand gestures. For years this has been a UI technology that was only seen in movies like Minority Report and Iron Man. Amazingly the people responsible for the 100,000 ft ideas are actually quite capable and have been developing technology that works almost just like the movies!
Most recently Microsoft announced a new interface add-on for Xbox called Natal. If you take nothing out of this post you should at least watch the video at this link because you are looking at the future.

Look Ma, Hands!!

Here is one more link, last one I promise. This video was made by some students at MIT who have been experimenting with hand gestures for computer interfaces.

So you might be asking, well what does this actually mean for me?
Well what you are looking at is the future of human computer interaction. Imagine you walk into your house and turn the TV on with the flick of your hand. You browse through the channels using similar motions and start playing a show. You then pick up your tablet computer that is linked to your entire house and turn on your shower and start the oven for dinner. As you get up you turn the TV off with a swipe and call out to your house that you want to listen to some music during your shower. In the shower there is another screen displaying the news of the day, you lift your hands and start scrolling. You decide to check a few emails and can even dictate back some responses. After getting out of the shower the music follows your through the house back to the kitchen where you prepare the meal while your kids play their new video game that involves jumping, running in place and wild hand gestures (they are getting a great work out). When its time for dinner a quick gesture and the stove and oven turn off and the video game pauses replacing the image with a tranquil beach scene. The table lighting turns on and your wife in the other room receives a message on her portable device that dinner is served.
So there is a little taste of what the future might hold, ubiquitous technology with limitless potential, all accessed through simple intuitive gestures, voice recognition and portable tablets. The thing that excites me is that at a certain point the technology dissolves into natural life and works to help with social interaction rather than isolating people. I will work for the rest of my life so that dreams like this are realized.

Who wants to be the first to have one of these houses, I'll start taking orders now...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


As the final episode of the most ridiculous television show ever approaches I am trying to figure out how to feel.
On one hand I know that I will miss the show and that the final episode won't reveal all the secrets and mysteries that make the show what it is. It is on just that same vein that I am happy to see the show end, finally a definitive stopping point, no more "Oh well we will have to see what they reveal next week" It will be up to our own imaginations to fill the gaps.

To call Lost an incredible show would not necessarily be the correct statement. Lost is an experience unlike anything I have ever gotten from visual media. The combination of great writing, amazing sets and the most intricate plot line I have ever encountered, even in a book, make Lost a timeless masterpiece.
I tell people all the time that the show is a really impressive display of modern cinema and that when watched from the start is so immersive you forget that you are watching television, it morphs into something different. If you are confused by what I just said then let me explain it with an example:
I love the show Entourage, and honestly what guy doesn't. A bunch of friends making tons of money, having sex with beautiful women and being a famous moviestar, who wouldn't want that. The thing about Entourage is its that simple, most shows are. If you watch 1 episode you get it, maybe not every line but you understand the show and you probably have a feel for the characters. The first episode of Entourage I saw was some random middle season episode but it didn't matter, and even today I don't have to remember the previous episodes to enjoy the next. These few principles drive most television shows: simple concepts, simple characters, well written dialogue that you can let flow in one ear and out the other. But Lost broke all the rules...
The first episode of Lost I saw was probably the one I hated the most, mainly because I had no fucking idea what was happening. Who are these characters, where are they, what is their motivation and why are they running around on this beautiful island like they have some idea of what is going on. Haha, to this day I still laugh at this fact. The fact is, Lost is a single show broken into a few dozen episodes. You can't just jump in, it would be like coming in halfway through a really intricate movie like The Matrix and expecting to just figure it out, not gonna happen!
Lost challenges you to remember things, because it rarely repeats. It is not a simple show, the concepts range from time travel to extremely complicated character relationships. Which brings up my third point, Lost has well written dialogue, and so do other shows but Lost differs in a huge way, Easter Eggs...
They are everywhere, if you go to Lostpedia you will quickly realize how in depth the analysis of every line, scene and idea can be. I have spent hours talking, writing and trying to understand the show and there are still parts that I can't figure out. On top of that there are details I haven't thought of or haven't even noticed.

So I leave you with one piece of advice, before you die watch Lost, from the beginning. If you get nothing else out of it, at least you'll know what you missed all those years...

Good night all!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quantum Theory

Its really not as confusing as you might think.

Well I guess it kind of is, but here is a link to the best summary articles I have ever read on the complicated (little) subject that is quantum mechanics.



I guess this is more of a welcome to myself as I suspect most people won't be reading my blog yet but in case you are, WELCOME!

This is usually when I would launch into some self proclamation about who I am and why I am blogging and blah ba blah...

Instead I just want to make this quick, I am blogging to share my thoughts and ideas with the world (and maybe vent my frustration a little).

I'll try to write something new everyday with an interesting link and my take on whats goin on.

I hope you enjoy and please don't hesitate to comment, I know I wouldn't...