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Kareem Garriga

Member - Award Winner, Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society

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What Should be the Next Step in Natural-User-Interface(NUI) Design?

Natural interfaces are efficiently replacing gestural interfaces in our times. As Human Beings, we yearn for a more interactive, intuitive, and lively method of communicating with the "digital-world." We want to be able to interact with data objects in the same way we interact with physical objects--even for those who fear losing conventional methods of communication with technology such as "mouse and keyboard," natural interfaces are attractive in that their emulation of everyday "real-world" gestures perfectly match our envisionment for how we believe technology should work. For example, with Multi-touch interfaces, we are allowed to treat our data collections as a "workspace." In this sense a computer evolves beyond what computers were known to be and become analogous to physical tools.If we were to run a photo-sharing album app in this sense, the photos behave how we would expect photos to behave and we interact with them in this fashion. Furthermore, recent research in NUI areas such as Sixth-Sense Technology and gestural-recognition touch-free interfaces (i.e, G-speak, Leap, various Kinect-based prototypes) have elaborated upon the ideals of multi-touch technologies in that they further conventionalize our interaction with computers. In a nutshell, NUI practices are growing with a central goal to make human to computer interaction feel more natural. With all these technologies in mind, what do you (the TED community) believe will be the next big thing in NUI design? How would you imagine humans would interact with computers in the near distant future? Do you believe that either 3D Holographic projections or augmented reality could become the future of NUI? Do you have any original ideas in mind relative to this topic? Thank you for sharing!

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  • May 28 2012: I think that artificial intelligence will be a key direction in the future of making Natural User Interfaces more effective. We need systems that will not only interpret our input in a natural way, but also process and respond to that input in a natural way.

    If we can move away from the perception that we are dealing with a "machine", then we will be free to interact with the system more naturally. Building on Debra's comment about psychology - wouldn't it be great if the systems can detect our body language and facial expressions to determine exactly what it is that we want to do? Non-verbal communication such as body language, facial expressions, gestures and eye movements, as well as voice tone reveal so much about what a person is REALLY thinking. If NUI systems can effectively interpret all of this information and process and respond to it in a natural way, the experience will be significantly more natural and effective.
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      May 31 2012: Yes! I'm actually thinking emotion sensing may be a direction for NUI research--although I must honestly add that the thought of this is slightly "on the line" for me. However, I dont think that it will be possible without quantum computing. When we actually establish a quantum computer NUI research will be boundless!

      And you do bring up a great point, we need to move past the point of dealing with a "machine". Hopefully the future brings forth ample solutions to "naturalize" our input.

      And conformity to graphical user interfaces may also be a problem...some people just simply do not want to move on. This is why I believe that a 3-D spatial pixel-based gestural interface (or what is commonly reffered to as holography) is a crucial step toward the future of NUI no matter what it may be. This would provide the best of both interfaces: a more "natural" and hands on engagement with computers that would allow users to interact with data in ways that seem "futuristic", and the ability to apply conventional methods of computing. Simply put, I believe "holography" would allow users to be "eased" into the future that NUI holds.
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    May 24 2012: Computers should begin to read their users. This is not impossible if we combine our understanding of user interface and psychology.
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      May 26 2012: So a psychological read? That could actually be really cool. You could have a "custom" experience for each user based on on their "profile". It would also take care of the user's preference in modern/contemporary design opinion with interfaces...