Hard to Keep Up With The Technology

It’s stuff like this that makes it hard to write science fiction set very far into the future – Gesture control is wave of the future:

Touchless computers are coming to a store near you, likely sometime next year. These are computers that operate with simple hand gestures — either through the use of sensitive sound-wave recognition or via cameras, similar to Microsoft’s Kinect. And they are being developed and tested right now…

Because its technology depends on sound waves, the user can gesture beyond the edges of the computer screen. For instance, swiping toward the screen could reveal a set of icons, and swiping your hand away from the computer could close an application.

“It’s much more comfortable,” Kjolerbakken said. “You can sit back and don’t have to be in physical contact with the device. You don’t get fingerprints on the screen.”

So, we imagined smart phones and multiplatform integration with roaming displays and such before they became reality, but we still have physical interfaces when it comes to screens and even telepresence (the latter in the form of gloves or rings, depending on the vintage of the equipment). One could imagine Amber using something like this (in a more explicit form than what we describe) in the scenes where she is assembling survey data on the wallscreen using her MA, or the famous scene in Minority Report in which Tom Cruise sorts through data on a large screen being “upgraded” to eliminate his gesture-sensing gloves.

I’m not persuaded yet, though, that this new technology will be all that revolutionary in real life. Given the way I use a computer, it won’t offer me any useful new capability (at least none that I can think of without having actually tried it out). I use a keyboard for text input and editing, a trackball for video and photo editing, and a mouse and spaceball for CAD work, all of which involve fine-detail control that a finger-sized object poked into a vague spot in space can’t provide. This latter method is perhaps compatible with or an improvement in some way over how people use touchscreens on app-based devices (the implementation on which the article focuses), but having used a tablet over the weekend, I can’t say I much like the currently available version anyway…sloppy, laggy, inaccurate, and slow.

I’ll gladly accept a seamless voice interface, though.