Christian starts out by pointing towards the changing demographics (Dutch ‘vergrijzing’). There will be many elderly people. Or perhaps better, many people above 65 years, because these people may be more healthy in body and mind than previous generations of elderly (is that true?).
There is a somewhat optimistic view of the potential of gesture technology, in the sense that he thinks it is possible to identify sets of ‘intuitive’ gestures in a gestural interface. In the end he is measuring accuracy with which people performed gestures, rather than if they were intuitive or not.
Regarding the reality of creating a set of ‘intuitive’ gestures. He expands nicely on ‘intuitiveness’ as being something that is fuzzy. They don’t mean a gesture is intuitive from the start, but perhaps it will be more easy to remember.
I noticed a flurry of gesture patents that mentioned a ‘portable mutlifunction device’. That’s patentspeak for iPhone. The patents were all from APPLE Inc. Well done Apple. That’s how you manage a patent portfolio. Philips and IBM used to be the masters in this line of completely covering an area with a barrage of patents. It will give Apple something to negotiate with in future business deals with other vendors.
Who will be able to argue with this patent portfolio? Who will be able to claim that the things Apple has patented were already invented elsewhere? Who will be able to maintain that gestures are not technical inventions but natural human communicative actions? Who will pay the lawyers to fight these fights?
Here it all is in a fashion that is easier to digest than sifting through 22 patents.
I think Apple has won this fight before it could even get started.
Fellow PhD student at the TU Delft, Miguel Bruns-Alonso created a nice video of his Music Cube (his graduation project, see paper). And then Jasper van Kuijk (another colleague) blogged it for usability. And here I come wandering wondering: whether moving this Cube in certain ways to control music playing can or should be considered gesturing.
Perhaps this is a highly irrelevant question. I am pretty sure Miguel could barely care less. But that’s me, always worrying about silly gesture stuff.
Like with sketching it is not the movement itself that matters. Rather, it is the effect that the movement causes that is important. Although the case of “shuffling” may be an exception because the “shaking” movement is fairly directly registered. Other commands are given by changing the side of the Cube that is up (playlists), or by pressing buttons (next, turn off), or turning the speaker-that-is-not-a-speaker (volume). These are fairly traditional ‘controlling’ movements, comparable to adjusting the volume or radiofrequency with a turn-knob (as in old radios).
I will leave aside the question whether such tangibility constitutes a more valuable or enjoyable interaction with our machines. Some believe that it does and who am I to disagree. Like it or not, take it or leave it, you choose for yourself.
What concerns me is whether such developments and other gesture recognition developments share certain characteristics. If so, then exchanging ideas between the areas may be a good idea. One of my bits of work is on discriminating fidgeting and gestures.
The question rises whether the Music Cube will allow people to pick it up and fidget with it without immediately launching commands. Can I just handle it without ‘touching the controls’? Like with other gesture recognition applications I want this Cube to allow my fidgeting. In that case rules for human behaviour regarding the difference between behaviour that is intended to communicate (or control) and behaviour that is just fidgeting would be useful. And why don’t we carry the thought experiment of the Music Cube further? If it has motion sensing, it should be able to do the sort of things that the Nintendo Wii can too. Why not trace gestures in the air to conjure up commands of all sorts? How about bowling with the Cube? Or better yet, playing a game of dice?
Here we find another example of gesture recognition straight from the heavens above.
At Philips they tinkered a bit with Looking Glass and HandVu, and now they have got it: A gesture controlled home environment. Just the thing we will be needing if our future is anything like minority report. What strikes me most is that your gestures appear to be captured from above. You do not gesture at the camera but rather hold up your hands for inspection. It is a posture and not a gesture if ever the two are to be set apart.
I like the way they provided three different interaction means: gestures, touchscreen and mouse. That should provide people with options to explore their preferences. Speech and gesture recognition need not replace mouse and keyboard. Just add it and create multimodal interaction. (We will deal with those silly little integration issues later).