User interface revolution coming to computers, TVs

Jan 12, 2012 by Charlotte Raab
Mitsubishi Electronics touch screen LCD monitors are displayed at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. New user interface technologies on display at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas are making a world without buttons, keyboards or even touchscreens a reality.

Control your television with your voice or a wave of the hand. Run your laptop with your eyes.

New technologies on display at the (CES) in Las Vegas are making a world without buttons, keyboards or even touchscreens a reality.

"These days devices get smarter and smarter," said Derek Li, president and chief executive of Zienon, a Chicago company which develops touch-free input technology.

But interfaces have not kept up. "It is like the personal computers in the 1980s that had only keyboards and no mouse," said Li, whose AirMove technology allows users to control by waving a hand in the air.

"Control is going to be more intuitive," he predicted. "You are going to be using your hands to directly control your TV interface.

"Nobody wants to have to find their remote for something as simple as changing channels," he added.

Kinect, Microsoft's voice and accessory for the game console, deserves much of the credit for demonstrating the capabilities of hands-free control to the general public.

More than 18 million Kinects have been sold in just a little over a year, and its success has given a boost to researchers working on new interfaces between people and their machines.

Microsoft's new Kinect controller for the Xbox 360 is displayed on a shelf at a store in Miami Beach in 2010. New user interface technologies on display at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas are making a world without buttons, keyboards or even touchscreens a reality.

"If Kinect had been a flop it would have taken years to get over it," said Virgile Delporte, vice president of marketing for SoftKinetic, a Belgian company which has developed gesture .

"The first usage was for play," Delporte said, but gesture recognition can be applied to medicine, sports rehabilitation and many other areas.

"This has wide implications for a lot of industries, like doctors in operating rooms being able to control equipment without touching it," Zienon's Li said.

"Eventually it's going to end up on laptops and tablets," Delporte said, with uses that cannot even be imagined yet.

Microsoft chief executive announced Monday in his opening CES keynote address that the US software giant plans to bring Kinect technology to Windows personal computers next month.

A crowd make their way between display booths along the aisles at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. New user interface technologies on display at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas are making a world without buttons, keyboards or even touchscreens a reality.

Another cutting-edge technology which could also end up on computers soon is eye tracking and eye control, which has been pioneered by the Swedish company Tobii Technology.

Tobii is displaying its eye tracking technology at CES with what it calls the world's first "eye controlled laptop" and the first "eye controlled arcade game," in which a player destroys asteroids just by looking at them.

If you don't feel like waving your hand at your television you can always talk to it.

Massachusetts-based startup Vlingo is promising to bring voice-controlled "virtual assistants" -- like Siri on Apple's latest iPhone -- to TV sets.

"If you are sitting on your couch you can just use your voice to control your TV, set-top box, cable-box or whatever," Vlingo's Chris Barnett told AFP.

"The TV will talk back to you in virtual assistant mode, ask what you want to see and drill down into what you are looking for," he said.

Viewers could ask assistants to find shows with particular actors or in preferred genres, or tell televisions to record or rent specific films or programs.

Microphones will be built into televisions or, more likely, remote controls, to let Vlingo software listen to viewers, according to Barnett.

"The Vlingo virtual assistant for TV is designed to modernize that thing your grandfather once called a 'remote control,'" he said.

Explore further: Bringing history and the future to life with augmented reality

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Televisions getting Siri-style personal assistants

Jan 10, 2012

Startup Vlingo on Tuesday said that it is giving televisions the kind of voice-controlled "virtual assistants" that have been a hit with the latest version of Apple's hot-selling iPhone.

Microsoft to bring Kinect to Windows PCs

Jan 10, 2012

Microsoft plans to bring its Kinect technology to bear on personal computers following its phenomenal success with the gesture and voice-recognition sensor in the Xbox 360 game console.

Microsoft Kinect makes moves on computers

Jun 17, 2011

Microsoft on Thursday began letting software developers imbue computers with voice and motion-sensing technology from its Kinect controller for the Xbox 360 videogame console.

Microsoft sold 8 mln Kinects in first two months

Jan 06, 2011

Microsoft sold more than eight million gesture-sensing Kinect controllers for Xbox 360 videogame consoles in just two months, the technology titan's chief executive Steve Ballmer has said.

Recommended for you

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Neuroscientist's idea wins new-toy award

Apr 15, 2014

When he was a child, Robijanto Soetedjo used to play with his electrically powered toys for a while and then, when he got bored, take them apart - much to the consternation of his parents.

Land Rover demos invisible bonnet / car hood (w/ video)

Apr 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —Land Rover has released a video demonstrating a part of its Discover Vision Concept—the invisible "bonnet" or as it's known in the U.S. the "hood" of the car. It's a concept the automaker ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Hackers of Oman news agency target Bouteflika

Hackers on Sunday targeted the website of Oman's official news agency, singling out and mocking Algeria's newly re-elected president Abdelaziz Bouteflika as a handicapped "dictator".

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...