Will Windows Blue Help Customers with Learning Curve?

Microsoft announced last week that it has sold 100 million licenses for Windows 8 since the software’s release six months ago, approximately the same number it sold for Windows 7 in the same time range at its release. The company made bold changes to its software, which included replacing the traditional interface with a screen of tiles. However, there has a been a negative reaction from some customers and the company admits the moves may have been too aggressive. A soon-to-come update may help those who are disappointed. Continue reading Will Windows Blue Help Customers with Learning Curve?

Museum Bridges Art and Tech with 40-Foot Collection Wall

The Cleveland Museum of Art is introducing new technology to enhance the visitor experience. With a special application designed for the iPad and a 40-foot interactive touchscreen, patrons can personalize and share tours, bookmark their favorite art, and access special videos and behind-the-scenes information for different exhibits. In the process, the Cleveland Gallery One program may serve as a model for museums and other venues. Continue reading Museum Bridges Art and Tech with 40-Foot Collection Wall

Wall-Sized Touchscreens in Our Near Future, Says Microsoft

According to Microsoft’s vision of the future, our lives will soon be impacted by large, wall-sized touchscreens, on which we will perform daily tasks, communicate with loved ones and much more. Additionally, all of our gadgets will respond to our voice commands and we’ll be able to seamlessly transfer information between devices with just a few swipes and/or taps. Continue reading Wall-Sized Touchscreens in Our Near Future, Says Microsoft

Wearable Tech Gadgets Put Users Back in the Physical World

New trends in the tech gadget space are returning to a consumer more engaged with his or her surroundings. Whereas smartphones and computers require that people’s attention go toward a screen, pulling attention away from the real world, new innovations may lead to the consumer becoming once again more engaged with the physical world. Many of these new ideas involve wearable devices. Continue reading Wearable Tech Gadgets Put Users Back in the Physical World

New Google Chromebook Pixel: High Price Tag But Impressive

Google’s latest hardware development hit stores last week as the company unveiled its first touchscreen laptop powered by the Google Chrome operating system. Called the Chromebook Pixel, it costs $1,299 for the Wi-Fi only version and $1,449 for the upcoming version with built-in LTE wireless technology for use on-the-go. The LTE version goes on sale in April with Verizon offering special wireless plans for new owners. Continue reading New Google Chromebook Pixel: High Price Tag But Impressive

CES 2013: Tactus Rises Above Fourth Wall of Touch Displays

The touchscreen changed the way users could interface with their devices and opened up a new realm of opportunities for software developers. Smartphone manufacturers, and more recently, tablet makers, have been exploiting this technology almost to a fault, lopping off nearly all the physical buttons from their designs, and with it, the physical connection between user and device. Tactus Technology aims to provide both with on-demand, transparent, physical buttons via their dynamic tactile interface. Continue reading CES 2013: Tactus Rises Above Fourth Wall of Touch Displays

Leap Motion Develops Gesture Control to Challenge Touchscreens

  • While computer makers are focused on adding touchscreen capabilities to desktops, Leap Motion has created a $70 matchbox-sized device that adds gesture control to computers, essentially negating the need for touchscreens.
  • The technology uses two small cameras and multiple infrarad LEDs to track the motion of a person’s fingers with an accuracy of a hundredth of a millimeter, Technology Review reports. The second camera is used to prevent errors from a hand obscuring itself. All the processing is done by a drive software installed on the computer.
  • According to Leap Motion co-founder and CEO Michael Buckwald, “Leap provides the solution to ‘gorilla arm,’ a term used to describe the dubious ergonomics of a person repeatedly lifting his or her hands from the keyboard or mouse and reaching out to operate a computer’s touch screen,” the article states. “Users of Leap’s device can lift their hands just slightly off the keyboard and make more economic gestures with their fingers.”
  • “If you’re controlling a cursor [with Leap], you don’t have to move one-to-one with the screen, like you do with touch,” says Buckwald, so small motions translate to larger movements on screen, making interaction faster than using a mouse and keyboard.
  • “We’re working with lots of consumer OEMs and for laptops but also automotive and medical companies,” he adds. In the future, the technology will be applied to mobile devices as well as new technology such as head-mounted displays. Leap Motion anticipates the technology will one day enable complex 3D interactions.
  • Pre-production versions of the device have been sent to developers who have created various applications for the interface, including a aircraft game and photo-browsing program. The post includes an impressive video featuring these uses and others.

Former Apple Inventor Offers New Slant on the Future of Interaction Design

  • Are touchscreens the ultimate expression for us to manipulate computing devices? (See the Microsoft video included in the post.)
  • In “A Brief Rant on the Future of Interactive Design,” former Apple human-interface inventor Bret Victor opts not to address human needs or technology, but what he sees as the “neglected third factor, human capabilities. What people can do. Because if a tool isn’t designed to be used by a person, it can’t be a very good tool, right?”
  • Victor sees our hands as the central component of our interactive future. If one looks at the range of expression and control for our hands, one realizes how much more is possible.
  • Victor describes touchscreens, for example, as “pictures under glass” which ignore the fact that our “hands feel things” and “manipulate things.” “Pictures Under Glass sacrifice all the tactile richness of working with our hands, offering instead a hokey visual facade,” he writes.
  • “Pictures Under Glass is an interaction paradigm of permanent numbness,” he adds. “It’s a Novocaine drip to the wrist. It denies our hands what they do best. And yet, it’s the star player in every Vision Of The Future.”
  • Victor doesn’t have a solution or a prediction for our interactive future, but suggests we start thinking differently in order to achieve it. “Pictures Under Glass is old news. Let’s start using our hands.”

Squashing Rumors: Why Apple Will Not Release a 7-inch iPad Mini

  • Recent speculation has suggested that Apple will produce an “iPad mini” to compete with the $199 price tag of the Amazon Kindle Fire, but many analysts doubt the possibility.
  • For one, if Apple is looking to compete with the Kindle Fire — which it has already denounced as a threat — it would have to compete in price, not size. A recent study showed that two-thirds of consumers want 10-inch devices while only 9 percent want a 7-inch tablet.
  • “We expect Apple to maintain its premium price point on tablets,” wrote Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps. “Apple will not allow Amazon to dictate the terms of competition — Apple makes its own rules.”
  • Additionally, the new size would complicate the development of apps, which have been specifically designed for the 3.5-inch and 9.7-inch displays of current Apple devices.
  • And the final reason: “Steve Jobs emphatically stated that 7-inch tablets are too small for a pleasant touchscreen experience,” writes Wired.

Kindle Fire: Amazon Jumps into the Tablet Fray with iPad Competitor

  • Amazon has unveiled the Kindle Fire — a 7-inch touch-screen, color, and Wi-Fi tablet with dual-core processor that will sell for $199. The new tablet was announced by chief exec Jeff Bezos at a press event yesterday in New York City.
  • The Android-based device will offer access to Amazon’s app store, books, streaming movies and TV shows. Moreover, the expectation is that it will increase sales for Amazon’s other merchandise. Fire is available for pre-ordering and will be available November 15.
  • “The online retailer is gambling it can succeed with its tablet where several other giants, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd., have so far failed,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Unlike those companies, Amazon already has a vast library of digital content to sell and tens of millions of credit-card numbers.”
  • The article suggests that the Kindle Fire may have an advantage over other tablets that have attempted to take on the iPad: “Amazon’s library of digital content, which its tablet users can access. Customers can pay $79 a year for a service known as Amazon Prime, which gives them access to 11,000 movies and TV shows, as well as unlimited two-day shipping for physical goods purchased on Amazon.com. Amazon also sells single movies, TV shows and music songs, with a catalog that competes with that of Apple’s iTunes store.”
  • Amazon also introduced three new Kindle e-readers — a touch-screen 3G version for $149, a touch-screen Wi-Fi version for $99, and a non-touch-screen model for $79.

The Rumors are True: First Look at the Amazon Kindle Tablet

  • Amazon is reportedly close to production on its long-rumored tablet device. TechCrunch provides a fascinating first-person report on the Android-based Kindle (but sorry, no pictures yet).
  • The device will initially feature a 7-inch color touchscreen with a 10-inch model coming next year. The interface is Amazon’s and the main screen resembles iTunes Cover Flow with a carousel of books, apps, movies. It is built on top of pre 2.2 Android. It will NOT be getting Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich.
  • It will be integrated with Amazon’s content store, which is one-click away. Apps will be available though Amazon’s Android App Store (and not Google’s Android Market). Additionally, the book reader is the Kindle app, the music player is Amazon’s Cloud Player and the movie player is Amazon’s Instant Video player. There is no camera.
  • The device is expected to include a free subscription to Amazon Prime, which will provide access to Amazon Instant Video.
  • TechCrunch anticipates an end of November launch at a cost of $250. There are many more details in the article…

Touchscreen Inventor Says Haptics will be Next Step for Mobile Devices

  • What’s next for mobile devices now that capacitive touchscreens have become the standard?
  • According to Synaptics technology strategist Andrew Hsu (and inventor of modern touchscreen technology for mobile handsets), the answer could be haptic technologies that allow us to feel individual touchscreen elements.
  • “Where I see the next frontier of user interface control is that we now want to try and recreate the tactility we lost from traditional hardware interfaces,” says Hsu. “Now that we’ve gotten dynamic touch and visual interfaces, it’s time to look towards dynamic touch feedback.”
  • Hsu hasn’t make any final judgements on 3D technology yet, although VentureBeat sees it as less significant than haptics at this point: “There’s plenty of potential in mobile gaming (imagine actually feeling buttons and joysticks again), and it would also make modern touchscreen phones more accessible for the disabled and elderly. I’d much rather the mobile industry move towards screens that can dynamically generate braille text for the blind to touch, rather than focusing on making us cross-eyed with tiny 3D screens.”

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