Gesture interfaces - are we ready?

Gesture interfaces are nothing new. They come alive once in a while with a use of new technologies. Technologies used so far were cameras (regular, depth, stereo), sound in a way (like clapping sound switches (Wikipedia) for switching on and off the light) or different wearable controls like glows. While cameras have been long used for research of gestural interfaces, they are also moving to consumers products (remember Toshiba's TV from 2008 (video on You Tube)). Researchers at MIT turned the whole TV into a camera. The same lab developed also the wearable Sixth Sense (video on You Tube). But these are only a few products in a sea of gestural interfaces.

Now there's a new way to track user's movement with ultrasound.

There's certainly the market for gestural interfaces like video games for example or some short termed interactions (Dart Vader uses gestural movement to strangle people - why is he using his hands if he can do it with his minds anyway?). But there are still some problems that haven't been answered or overcame yet:

  • Gestural interfaces can not be used for long periods of time as waving hands in the air is not so easy. Gorilla arm (Wikipedia) effect was long known to be a problem on touch screens and all gestural interfaces. 
  • Another problem is misinterpreting gestures. I can not picture myself being still while watching TV. Or waving to someone and change the program I was watching without wanting it :). 

None the less gestures are used in everyday applications. Mouse gestures for example are popular in some web browsers (Wikipedia). Then we have trackpads that recognize gestures ( And of course already mentioned touch screens that found its niche in info kiosks, ATMs (cashing machines), bars and supermarket cash registers, smartphones, PDA's and even keyboards (You Tube video) to name just a few. There are also projected interfaces used in consumer products (e.g. keyboard (Wikipedia)) which are a bit more specific gesture interfaces compared to first mentioned camera recognized movements.

Looking at all these technologies (and how "intuitive" they are?) it seams that there is still life ahead for standard keyboards and computer mice (or trackpads) :).

Taps 4

Another tap. This one is a mixed tap and it's of a nice shape. The reason it is mentioned here is its cold/hot water signs which are not visible in a "washing hands position". The blue/red sing is visible only if someone bows and bothers to look under the handle. Which doesn't really make sense - but I did it because I was wondering .... :)

3 confusing recycling boxes

We have three boxes to recycle litter:

  • Green box with yellow lid: cardboard & glass bottles, jrs
  • Green box with yellow lid: paper, newspapers, & cans, tins & milk bottle tops
  • Black box with red lid: plastic bottles

I don't mind recycling. Actually I like recycling because I makes me feel a better person. I had 7 boxes in Sweden to recycle almost everything: cardboard, paper, colored glass, transparent glass, hard plastic, soft plastic, wood and similar hardware. But each one had its own litter box with a picture of what goes inside.

Now I have two identical boxes and no sign of what goes in. Lets look at the example that often happens to me. Every two weeks the boxes are emptied. I know that the plastic goes in the black one. If I want to put in some paper I choose one of the yellow boxes. Then I want to put in some cardboard and I have to check which one is empty. I want to put in some glass later, I have to check the leaflet (which is now hanged on the door to the backyard where the boxes are) if it goes with paper or cardboard and I have to find out in which of the two boxes contains cardboard. An so on. So every time I first check the leaflet to see what goes where and then I have to find the proper yellow lid.

It might be only me but I really think it's stupid to go through this process every time. I thought of simplifying the procedure with writing or drawing a picture on the lid of what goes in the box.  But none of the neighbors has done something similar and I'm not sure if I can do it (city council's property). Then I decided to have paper in the left and cardboard in the right box. But I can't never remember what I have decided and mix the two again and again. So I gave up.

Thankfully, city council has come to help me. As of August  they changed the rules:

  • Green box with yellow lid: Plastic bottles, tins, cans, glass bottles and jars
  • Black box with red lid: Newspapers, magazines, office paper, junk mail, cardboard, catalogues and telephone directories
There will be only two boxes of different color and lids :). Ta!