Friday, November 16, 2012

Wave hello to a new UI parameter: electrical fields feel 3D gesture input.



Some pedant scientists are quick to remind us that there really is no such thing as touch as we know it. The sense we call touch is actually an illusion. A misunderstanding. A method for the mind to simplify a more complex process of electron avoidance. We can hover and transfer electro impulses, but we never really reach out and touch someone. The universe is actually a very repulsive place.

As far as smartphone user interfaces go, we've been stuck in 2007 for five years now. The monoblock touch form factor now accounts for approximately 90% of all smartphones. The world is flat as a pancake it seems, full of dark dark black, rectangular screens.

When will the next UI shift happen? Follow the components.

Here's an interesting story in MIT's Technology Review about a new technique for devices to sense 3D gesture-based input for devices. Rather then using cameras or accelerometers, Microchip Technology has introduced a way to used electrical fields to sense 3D movment. Microchip calls this enabler "GestIC Technology," and could lead to some interesting user interactions in devices a few years down the road. Picture an accurate gesture-based UI in a car, or perhaps under the car. In the kitchen, or in the garden.

A touch replacement? Probably not. But it's clear that handsets are becoming more sensitive. And thanks to the magic of sensor fusion, data from the growing number of device sensors can be made to work together in wonderful ways.

Perhaps we won't be waving goodbye to touch, but rather hello to another step towards the UI of the future.

3D input cubed. Concept video from Microchip:

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