Have you thought about how amazing your computer is recently? The hardware keeps getting more powerful, more compact, and more affordable, and the software applications now enable us to accomplish nearly anything from work to play. But what good are any of these advances if they’re too complicated for us to use?
The fact is that when computers first started showing up in our day-to-day lives, they left a lot of people stumped. There was no such thing as ‘Plug & Play’. It was more like plug, and plug, and plug, and boot, and install, and—so on—until finally you were able to start learning how to use your mouse, keyboard, and operating system. And that’s only once the mouse had been invented. Before the graphical user interface (GUI)—those being the different windows that opened in Microsoft’s flagship software–there was no need for a computer mouse because there was nothing to click on.
Open up the Terminal program on your Mac or, on Windows, click ‘Run’ in the start menu, type ‘cmd’, and hit Enter to get a taste of what using a computer used to look like. If you’ve never used a command prompt before you may be a little lost. You aren’t the only one. It’s really no surprise that public enthusiasm for early computers was minimal. If you didn’t have to use one, why spend all that time to figure it out? Of course, fast-forward to today and that experience has changed dramatically thanks to vast improvements in design, which have made today’s computers more user-friendly and easier to navigate. If you’ve ever played around with one of Apple’s products, then it probably comes as no surprise that much of the company success can be linked to how intuitive its Mac OS and iOS products are to use.
Much of this can be attributed to their willingness to experiment with new input methods. Take something as seemingly functional as a trackpad. While the original design was perfectly okay, Apple saw room for improvement.
Building on the familiar set of multi-touch gestures that people quickly became familiar with on the iPhone, they were the first to design a computer operating system that actually favored the tap, swipe, and pinch format. It was a natural step to take for the creators of the iPhone and iPad since the 2D gesture experience can now be adopted seamlessly across all of its devices. But, even as intuitive as the iOS interface can be, it still takes a measure of abstraction to really get it down because we don’t exist in a two dimensional world.
That’s the logic taken by the creators of The Leap, a next-generation motion sensor that creates a fully interactive 3D space. In essence, The Leap wants to make computers understand natural human movements and controls. Instead of ‘click-and-drag’, think ‘grab-and-put’. By allowing us to, in a sense, reach into a virtual environment, The Leap could fundamentally change the way that we think of digital content.
The ubiquity of computers in our society makes it so that they have to be user-friendly. But soon we may begin to see a type of computer interface that’s so user-friendly we may not even realize we’reusing it. Or, when we do make a command, we might treat it less like a machine, and more like a person providing a service that we appreciate.
How will device interaction continue to evolve to a more natural experience? Continue reading on iQ by Intel.
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