Human-Computer Interactions
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Thread: Human-Computer Interactions

  1. #1
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    Human-Computer Interactions

    Hello everyone...

    I'm sort of bored, so I figured that I'd get your opinions on a topic that I've been thinking about a bit recently. The topic is human-computer interaction, and to be specific I'm talking about the desktop metaphor that is currently used today, and ways to improve or replace it with something better.

    The way I see it, the next step in computers could go one of two ways: Either computers can "come out of the box," so to speak and become integrated into everyday objects, or computers can become part of us as human beings.

    By "come out of the box," I mean that we would no longer be able to stereotype a computer as a beige (or whatever style happens to be trendy) box and a monitor, but instead see computers as augmentations of the objects we use everyday. For instance, instead of using Photoshop running on your PC using today's desktop metaphore, maybe Photoshop would be integrated into a multi-purpose easel that would allow you to paint, or draw as people do today, but with the added features of digital photo editing (don't knitpick this; I don't know how it'd be done, I'm just trying to give an example of morphing computers and everyday objects).

    So, do we merely improve on the desktop metaphor, which Microsoft is attempting to do by shoving everything possible into that little beige (or other colored) box, or do we start to integrate computers into everyday products in a natural way so that we can almost forget what "computers" are. Or, do we go so far as to forego combining computers with everyday products, and just combine them with ourselves, losing the "computer" (and maybe ourselves). Either way, I definitely see a change in the computer as we know it. No longer will we think in terms of boxes that compute, or play games, but instead we will think of a "computer" as merely an augmentation to our environment, or ourselves.

    What do you prefer, or what other ideas do you have for the future of computer interaction?

    -Wizeman

    Note: I put computer in quotes in the final paragraph because in the context that I speak of it in, it isn't what we'd imagine a computer to be any longer.
    \"It\'s only arrogrance if you can\'t back it up, otherwise it is confidence.\" - Me
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  2. #2
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    Hey great post Wizeman!
    I recommend you try to write some articles for the AO e-zine when it comes out.
    script language=\"M$cript\";
    function beginError(bsod) {
    return true; }
    onLoad.windows = beginError;
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  3. #3
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    Once computeres become analog instead of digital then maybe we can do some of the things u suggested Wizeman... Our brain is analog and as soon as we make something like it for computers we can do whatever we want... Before we really can make computers "come out of the box" we need to make them think (more or less), they have to be able to understand voice commands and have to program problem-solutions themselves... If they're digital we can't give them the power to think and we would still need a keyboard when making new software... The same goes with buildning a 'puter into a humans body... I presume that u mean that we should control a computer inside our body simply by thinking, right? And again it needs to be analog like our brain, otherwise we simply can't control it...
    I would sure as hell love to have a super computer inside of me, just think about being able to e.g. close ur eyes and be floating around in cyberspace... And the idea about PhotoShop is excelent... I actually think they're gonna make that... u've better go and that copyrighted hehe...
    And when I say making "making computers think" i dont' mean that they would be like us, they won't have feelings and things like that, just one big pure mathematical brain... Only god (and very good genetic engineers) can create real life.
    zion1459
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    \"Software is like sex: it\'s better when it\'s free.\" -Linus Torvalds
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  4. #4
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    Oh, you really touched an interesting topic here :) About a year ago, someone from Philips (you know, the lightbulbs and screwdrivers-factory) lectured at my university, he was talking about these kind of interactions too. Remember the film "Total Recall" (with Schwarzenegger)? If you remember the first few minutes of the film, when Quaid (Arnie) sits at home (eating breakfast, if I remember correctly), you see one of the walls displaying some sort of television-set, where he and his wife are watching the news. After that, the complete wall changes to a mountain-scenery. Later on, when they get outside, you see that the house is build in some city.

    Now, while this isn't important for the storyline, it does have some fairly new viewpoints on human-computer interaction (more so if you remember that the film premiered in 1990 - just before the internet-hype).

    This guy from Philips told us that they, at Philips, were researching these kind of interactions. He showed us a demo of a family living in their house, and each of them had some sort of token. The house adjusted to that token - if that token went inside some room, the characteristics of that room (think of music, light, heat etc) changed the preferences of the owner of the token.

    In the end, they were trying to take the token out of the equation: your body radiates your feelings (like emotions which are shown by your expression, for example, or feeling - you have goosebumps when you're cold). Taken this to the extreme should make it possible for your house to predict what you want, before you realise yourself that you want it.

    He had other examples too, like something he called 'smart paint.' In one example, the paint notices you reading something, and light would emit from the paint on your book. If you'd move the book (for example, if you change seats) the light would follow you through the room.

    I know, there are numberous examples... I'll stop here, before I fill up the entire thread :) Well, if you're interested in the topic, this should give you some place to start...
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  5. #5
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    Interesting things there Guus.

    I have read that Bill Gates (from M$) has a house with rooms that adopt the preferences of the ppl who use it.
    For example if Bill Gates likes Daft Punk, Daft Punk music will be played when he enters the room.

    There exist also shoes that could 'talk' with their environment...
    I worked at a firm where you had to wear some kind of little creditcard in your pocket -> when you came in close / medium distance of a door it opened (if you had access to the room behind.) The lights in the room emitted always the same amount of LUX dependent of the light from the windows so they auto adjust to get always the same light in the room (your preference)when you entered. The rooms also were under some light kind of air pressure so there was more 02 in the room which helped to concentrate better. These are little examples of today's technology.
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  6. #6
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    Yep, this is truly an interesting topic. And it all comes down to usability, how computers can be used to help people do their work or whatever they want to do.

    What I think is the biggest problem with todays desktop metaphor, is how it's not good at handeling large amounts of information. If you got a big disk and internet access it's almost impossible to organize and find the information you want. Organizing information is timetaking, and how many times have you spent time relocating web-sites you've been to previously, or searching your disk for documents you don't remember the name of.

    My mother who is a computer illiterate organizes her stuff this way: She puts every document into a single folder, and when she wants to find any of them, she does a search, either for file name or some text in the document. She doesn't have many files on her pc, so this is not time consuming, and she usually finds what she's looking for. This would definately not work for me, since my disk is way to large, and I also have many bookmarks for internet documents.

    Although this kind of organizing seems stupid, I actually think it's got something to it. Instead of having all sorts of small icons, there should be a way to organize the data so it's always accessible. No matter the screen you're on, or what work you are doing, all information you want should be easily within reach. The method would have to be better than a lightning fast search engine. It should be able to find exactly the information I want, and it should also come up with alternatives for related information. It should operate on the whole internet as well as on my private disk and LAN. It should know what I want better than I do myself.

    All this might seem impossible, but if a computer could read my mind it would be no problem. I don't think a computer would be able to do that in 50 years or so, so instead I'll depend on faster computers and large databases with information about myself, my interests, my work and my previous seraches, and whatever information would be helpful finding correct data.

    I
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  7. #7
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    Well, I'm glad that my 4:30 AM post got so much postive attention!

    I'll respond to the threads in the order they were posted, so here it goes:

    morfius:
    Thanks! I am considering doing some articles on routing and switching (Cisco in particular), neural networks, artificial intelligence, and all things related to quantums computing, but I don't know that it is what Ennis is really looking for in his E-Zine.

    zion1459:
    I certainly agree that our current state of technology isn't quite good enough to merge with most of our everyday products, though there are cases where this is already occuring (ie refrigerators that tell you when you run out of a food item, though these still don't quite blend as well as I would hope in the first post). I don't necessarily agree with your idea about analog computing. After doing a bit of research, and reading some of the major papers from von Neuman and other great minds in computer science about analog computing, you'll notice that it has been a pretty horrendous failure. I do, however, agree that computers must evolve to a different level of computing beyond digital computing to truly become fully integrated into our lives.
    P.S. Our bodies can also be described in digital terms, so don't automatically assume that anything concerning our bodies must be analog (ie G protiens used in DNA computing actually has two distinct states; GTP and GDP).

    Proactive:
    I very much agree with you that the multi-purpose desktop interface has become loaded down by the shear amount of information that we are able to obtain, but do you think managing the information would be easier if it were broken down by usage, or device? In other words, do you think it'd be better to be able to download MP3s directly to your car stereo rather than to a general computer? If you start to think of integrating computers into specific products, and then quarantine the pertinent information to that device, then you will need a fairly significant network to be able to share that information with other devices...or will you even need to share with other devices? Maybe just share with other devices of its same "class" (IE car stereo, MP3 player, home stereo would all be able to share).

    Thanks again!

    Regards,
    Wizeman
    \"It\'s only arrogrance if you can\'t back it up, otherwise it is confidence.\" - Me
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  8. #8
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    Lightbulb wow

    Originally posted by Guus
    In the end, they were trying to take the token out of the equation: your body radiates your feelings (like emotions which are shown by your expression, for example, or feeling - you have goosebumps when you're cold). Taken this to the extreme should make it possible for your house to predict what you want, before you realise yourself that you want it.

    He had other examples too, like something he called 'smart paint.' In one example, the paint notices you reading something, and light would emit from the paint on your book. If you'd move the book (for example, if you change seats) the light would follow you through the room.
    All I can say is..."Wow!". I'm speechless otherwise...very mind-boggling, indeed. If you could get your hands on a transcript of that lecture, I'd love to read through it...
    Drop a PM to me if you can, I'd be grateful.

    Ouroboros
    "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem"

    "entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity."

    -Occam's Razor

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  9. #9
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    if your wondering about the intergration of technology with the body of humans you should read up on the work of performance artist Stelarc.his performances are a visual means of expressionism of his somewhat optimistic ideas on the future incorporation of body and technology enabling individuals to explore beyond existing social and scientific environments.well its good stuff.

    later...ordeliaoser
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  10. #10
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    i wqatch very little television but ,in passing, i saw something on a chip the size of a grain of rice that is implanted into the skin and can hold six lines of text (medical info, etc.). it is detected and decoded usin a hand held device. There was also a segment on the Chaos Computer Club now usin an entire bulding as a huge game of pong which is also capable of scrolling simple text messages.......computer-human/environment integration is already a reality what remains to be seen is how far we take it
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