Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Microsoft Research: Buttons Beat Multitouch Mouse

Always interesting to see the giants bashing each other. Here, Microsoft basically says it's better to have real buttons.

Meanwhile, Apple's spindoctors call their product Magic Mouse. For a product that has no affordances for it's new functionality, it's a very flattering name. Seems to me that the new features are hard to discover, pretty hard to remember, and I'm worried about triggering functionality by accident when I handle the mouse. But, to be fair, I only used it for a minute in a store, so who am I to bash it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

pCubee: A Perspective-Corrected Handheld Display

Shaking cows around is such a brilliant idea. I smile every time I see it. This looks like a wonderful toy. To be able to render the scene in correct perspective, they use some kind of magnetic head-tracker mounted on a pair of headphones.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Horizon 2D-3D transitions

Recently, 3D has made a splash in the media and tech world; we see it in everything from blockbuster 3D movies to TVs and handheld devices with stereoscopic 3D (S3D) screens. What does this mean for the future of user interfaces (UIs)?

At TAT we are thrilled by the design possibilities 3D graphics have to offer (as we explained in this whitepaper). We believe S3D will dramatically increase the demand for 3D UIs. Of course, we don’t expect 3D to replace 2D anytime soon, as most users are familiar and comfortable with 2D UIs. Nevertheless, there are obvious advantages to both. Now, we have invented a way to combine these approaches, based on a solution that we call the Horizon 2D-3D transition.

Take maps, for example. Not so long ago, most maps were in 2D. These maps are typically simplified, making it easy to orient yourself in relation to stylized images of roads and blocks of buildings. Recently, digital map providers such as Google and Microsoft (Bing) have begun to offer maps in a “street view” 3D layout. These 3D maps allow users to actually see the height, shape and surfaces of objects such as buildings, which is useful when looking for a particular landmark.

Clearly, there are advantages to both 2D and 3D maps, and they coexist side by side in many map solutions. The problem however, is that users risk losing their visual points of reference when switching between 2D and 3D views. We think that the Horizon 2D-3D transition is the solution. In our Horizon Map demo, we show how 2D and 3D maps can be combined into a singular application where layout alterations are seamless and dynamic. This is much more comprehensible than the mode switching of current map solutions. The demo is built with TAT Cascades and it uses stunning 3D map meshes from C3 Technologies.

The Horizon 2D-3D transition is not limited to maps, however. For instance, in our Horizon List demo, we show how a standard contact list in 2D transforms into a more complex 3D list, which also shows status updates. While maintaining the simplicity of 2D when looking for a specific contact, it is easy to switch to the information-dense 3D list to find out if someone has shared any news. With full support for both 2D UIs and 3D UIs, TAT Cascades now makes it possible to move dynamically and seamlessly between both, in any application.

Monday, September 13, 2010


This drawing app is just full of novel interaction design. It may be the first time I see commands issued by crossing the edge of the screen. I'm sure you could do lots of other things with that.

It's the first time I see the circular ruler in a paint program. The gesture is interesting for that one, because it differentiates between a two finger rotational gesture where both fingers move, vs two finger rotational gesture where only one finger moves. Interesting.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Multitouch on stamps

I always thought the idea of multitouch on tiny screens was kind of ridiculous. So I kind of laughed when I heard Apple was going to but multitouch on the iPod nano, because it's really no bigger than a stamp.

But Apple got the last laugh, because they found a really nice use for it. Instead of having an accelerometer guess what orientation you want, you use two fingers to rotate the screen, and you get what you want. Simple to learn. Easy to remember.

I thought the automatic switch would be the best, but I've learned when living with the iPad and iPhone that it often rotates when I don't want it to. Stopping the guesswork and just using two fingers to rotate the screen is a step in the right direction. I think.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Future os Screens - Experience video

Capacitive screens has now become a commodity for touch screen devices. Screen technology is now taking the next leap and the coming years imagination is the only thing stopping us. We will soon have dual screens, malleable screens, screens built into wifi connected mirrors, desks or backside of gadgets clothed with e-ink screens, tactile feedback, color screens with great contrast in sunlight, holographics/stereoscopic screens, color e-ink touch screens, or screens actually knowing where they are in relation to other screens thanks to ultrasonic emitters and microphones.

We want to show some of these things in an "experience video", that shows a normal day in a couple of years when all these technologies are affordable enough to be used everywhere. This video is the result of our experiment with open innovation, read more about our experiment here. Big thanks to all the people from TAT and around the world who helped out and sometimes shared their ideas and sometimes gave us homework on our own ideas.