Sunday, April 06, 2008

No keyboard or mouse, just brains

First came Nintendo Wii to amaze gamers with its pioneering technology, then it was Guitar Hero exploring new kinds of kinetic interface. In the meantime in our work environments we are stuck with technology like the QWERTY keyboard and the computer mouse dating back 134 years and 45 years respectively.

Few steps are taken in order to revolutionize office technology, and it is the usual suspect Microsoft who is already busy developing Surface, an alternative to keyboard and mouse. This move will probably signify the beginning of a new era in the consumer electronics world. Kristin Alexander, head of research and planning for Microsoft Surface, claims that interfaces will, in the longer term, move beyond table top screens to other spaces. "That's why we called it Surface and not table", she said while Microsoft still remaines committed to the mouse.

But if that’s Microsoft’s ambitious plan they may have a bit of catching up to do. Cynergy Systems is a company that already presented a showcase of a home made "Minority Report" style gesture-interface. The system utilizes Nintendo Wii controller, a gutted computer mouse, and a pair of baseball gloves dotted with infra-red LED's bringing the cost to around $150. According to early feedback, regardless of the device’s homebrew-feel, the results were impressive.

Currently Microsoft Surface costs thousand of dollars while Cynergy’s system could be much cheaper and quite similar but without the surface.

The latest development though called Emotiv actually remind of that old spy film on which Clint Eastwood was operating a Russian Aircraft’s weapons with his mind. Similarly Emotiv utilizes electrical activity in the brain to control computer systems and is regarded as the most promising next generation development.

Amazing sci-fi stuff, isn’t it?