Your Brain is the Interface

07 Mar 2011|Lee Shupp

We have seen computing interfaces come a long way since Xerox Parc invented the mouse some 40 years ago. The mouse and keyboard, along with the desktop metaphor, have long been standard fare for computing. It’s hard to believe that functional voice recognition has been around since the 80’s, given that it still seems in its infancy – good for basic information, yet nowhere near ready for a conversation. Touch screens are proliferating, on devices as small as a wrist watch and as large as a Surface table. And most recently gesture computing has arrived, with the Xbox Kinect selling over 8 million units so far and EyeSight recently releasing its gesture UI for Android tablets. 

Looking at these interfaces on an adoption curve, I can’t help but speculate where it’s all heading.

Clearly, thought itself is the ultimate destination. Imagine if technology devices could respond to our intent without us having to lift a finger? Surprisingly (or perhaps not), that day may not be so far away.
 
Very simple forms of thought computing are already here. For a mere $56 through amazon.com, you can buy Mattel’s Mindflex Game that challenges you to levitate a ball with your brain.
 
Thought HelmetAnd of course DARPA has been working on a form of telepathic communication for a few years now, hoping to develop thought-transmitting helmets.  I’m hoping that when this technology mainstreams, the interface will be a little more fashionable – perhaps a nice shallow brim porkpie.

I’ll be sharing more of my perspectives on natural user interfaces at South by Southwest Interactive on Sunday March 13th. I’m looking forward to exploring the possibilities with the smart folks who will be there.

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