3D NUI (Natural User Interface)

September 23, 2009

I came across an interesting blog article while doing research into multi-touch interfaces.  Joshua Blake, a .NET, SharePoint, and Microsoft Surface Consultant for InfoStrat is petitioning the World Wide Web to participate in what he's calling The MOADtouch Project.  If you're one of the many folks (like me) who are scratching your head as to how multi-touch computers can apply to your everyday experience, Joshua feels your pain. Why smudge the screen when you can quickly point and click?  Today's computers were designed to be interfaced with using a mouse, a keyboard or a digitizer (tablet PC).  

Essentially, Joshua is wanting to help reinvent the way humans interact with a computer and he's asking all to participate. "Pretend touch was the only acceptable input device to the mass market. Forget the Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointers. Forget the rectangles. Start with your fingertips and design out from there," Joshua says.  OK Joshua, you're on…


The 3D NUI 

To date, input devices such as mice, keyboards and digitizers offer limited interaction with the computer, right?.  The monitor literally acts as a barrier to entry disallowing a user the ability to reach inside and interact with an application beyond a one-dimensional plane.  But what if the dimensions of the computer extended further than the screen?  Imagine a three-dimensional NUI sans the stupid red and blue paper glasses.  It's like an advanced Wii experience, except not only can you use applicable hardware (see Fig 3), but it's better because your body can essentially step inside the application.  No, I don't mean like a character you create on the Wii.  Your hand or whatever body part actually interacts with an application that is presented in 3D.  Thus, your hand remains your hand, not a character-generated interpretation. The application itself is three-dimensional. For example, if you're inside CAD building the next space shuttle, you could pick up the parts you're working with and place them accordingly. 

FIG 1  (3D NUI)

Now take the above picture one step further and imagine a large 60-inch monitor offering a grander scale and the ability to interact using the entire human body. Need to prep for an operation you've never performed Doc?  Open up the cadaver application and practice, using an electronic scalpel as an input device. 




Fig 2 (3D NUI – Massive Scale)

Fig 3  (3D NUI Input Devices etc. etc.)

Forgive my entrepreneurial zeal, but my brain immediately started mind-mapping the endless horizontal and vertical markets a 3D NUI could apply:

  • CAD
  • Interior Design
  • Cartography
  • Digital Sculpting and Painting???  (Takes art degrees over the internet to a whole new level)
  • Auto Design
  • NASA
  • Facial Recognition (Social networking never looked so good)
  • Surgical Practice (Use scalpels, scissors, tweezers, etc as input devices)
  • Education (Imagine the possibilities: applied physics, trigonometry, geometry, etc.)

Okay Joshua, that's my two pennies.  It's late… All these possibilities have kept me at the office later than I planned on staying this evening.

I enjoyed participating in The MOADtouch Project and encourage the LitCentral Founders' Blog readers to give it a go.  BTW…Have I mentioned before on this blog how much I love technology? We live in such an exciting era.  The possibilities are endless!

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