Moving Toward a New User Interface

Jonathan Josephson of Quantum Interface (Austin, Texas) presented an ambitiously titled Motion Tutorial talk at the 2014 Touch Gesture Motion Conference (October 28-30, Austin, Texas) entitled, History of the World of Interfaces and Interactions (but primarily motions). Quantum Interface (QI) describes itself in a press release concerning the firm’s participation in TGM 2014 stating: “the company has developed software and middleware to enable better navigation on mobile and tablet devices, TVs, wearables, automobiles, environmental controls, and more. The technology brings together intuitive motion, eye tracking and predictive “Precognition” controls for faster menu navigation and may be blended with voice and other controls”. An introduction video illustrating Quantum Interface’s motion-based user interface can be viewed here

At TGM 2014, Josephson provided a historical background and context for the development of the QI’s motion user interface which he described as being “analogue”, and “vector-based”. The presenter identified the five ways that humans interface with things today as touch, voice, body language, gestures and motion. Josephson described motion as, “a change in position of an object with respect to time and its reference point. Motion is typically described in terms of displacement, direction, velocity, acceleration, and time”. He went on to describe the three aspects of motion as an interface as menuing, scrolling and attribute control. The central idea of motion as an interface is that all three aspects may be combined to form a complete motion-based user interface which provides the user with operations that are performed in a continuous rather than a discrete manner.

As he continued his tutorial, Josephson described a second motion element of QI’s user interface – animation. He posited that an appropriate animation can communicate status and provide feedback, enhance the sense of direct manipulation and help the user visualize the results of their actions. Nearing the end of his presentation, Josephson went on to describe an automotive heads up display (HUD) based user interface incorporating eye tracking for control purposes (photo below). A demo of this HUD was available to view and interact with on the table top demonstration portion of the TGM meeting.

An interesting reference cited during Quantum Interface’s Motion Tutorial was to the “300 Million Dollar Button”. After the conference I took the opportunity to follow-up the speaker’s suggestion that I Google this topic. What I learned was an interesting story about the significance of user interface design. Josephson‘s TGM Motion Tutorial was an engaging and informative introduction to the use of the analogue and vector-based elements of a motion user interface. I will be watching to see if motion-based user interface elements appear in upcoming products and applications. – Phil Wright