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The Next Paradigm Shift By @ABridgwater | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

Emerging technologies now pushing toward facial and gesture recognition now appear to be at the forefront

The Next Paradigm Shift: An ‘Immersive' User Interface

Major product cycle changes tend to come around roughly every five years or so. The technology industry is fond of labeling these movements as paradigm shifts, but we've all heard too many of those things referenced, so let's not go there.

Looking back over the last decade and the emergence of touch, our appetite for richer controls is never long satisfied. As soon as one finger touch arrived we wanted two-finger touch. Pinch and zoom wasn't far behind and multi-user touch soon followed.

But it wasn't enough.

Forefront or vanguard?
Emerging technologies now pushing toward facial and gesture recognition now appear to be at the forefront (if not the vanguard) of where we go next with our user interfaces.

Scarcely an IT conference and exhibition goes by (from any of the main vendors at least) without some kind of facial recognition app such as http://how-old.net/ being showcased.

What comes next?
Vendors have used the term ‘immersive natural user interface' to describe a new breed of machines that are capable of interpreting gesture recognition and controls.

The problem (the vendors assert) is that our real world is presented to our human brains in 3D, but that the world of computing is largely presented in 2D. HP has recently produced the oddly named ‘Sprout' machine, which combines a scanner, depth sensor, hi-resolution camera and projector into a single device.

Just take that in once more... a plain old ‘camera' is no longer enough if our machines are going to be able to interact with us as human beings. The machine needs to know not only that we are there (a camera does this job just fine), the machines needs to know how far away we are (and this is why we need a depth sensor) and more.

"People have always created with their hands," said Ron Coughlin, senior vice president, Consumer PC & Solutions, HP. "Concurrently, technology has progressed from the first transistors, through calculators to today's most sophisticated computing platforms. Until now, the physical and digital worlds have largely been separated and digital creation has remained in 2D."

What would a product like this look like?

The Sprout (yes, they really did call it that) by HP offers a dual screen workspace and the so-called Sprout Illuminator: a projection system that scans and captures real-world objects in 3D, allowing the user to interact.

Dual screen in this sense does not mean split screen; we are talking about creating a "screen environment" on two computers that collaboratively brings two users on two screens into one zone. This is 3D not in the normal sense, this is almost creating three dimensions across space and time.

By way of some opinion and analysis here then... will gesture recognition and this kind of device form factor take off? Yes and no. Yes it will in places for certain use cases and certain application types. But no it will not necessarily reshape the current state of the PC manufacturing industry overnight. Some credit is due for pushing toward the next stage in user interface adoption even if we don't know what this is yet.

The Sprout Software Development Kit is available at www.sprout.hp.com/developer.

This post is sponsored by The Business Value Exchange and HP Enterprise Services.

More Stories By Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

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