Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Alternative input paradigms

I'm being super productive today, so I'm allowing myself a few extra entries.

Earlier last year, during a meeting with one of my advisors, I mentioned that the push to use cortical implants to control a cursor worried me a little. Sure the brain is plastic, and that plasticity combined with the inherent coding properties of motor cortex should result in decent control of a 2D cursor, but it was still 'unnatural'. The people involved in many tried of BCI devices are adults - well beyond the so called 'critical period' (a controversial term, I know). My guiding philosophy is that the interfaces of tomorrow will appeal more and more to the distinct advantages of our biology. That is, future human-computer interaction will become more and more organic and complementary to uniquely human traits. This is why the need to create more able-bodied types of interfaces, like prosthetic limbs, is much more important. technology sure isn't going to be a sitting target, and we need to anticipate the direction of its enhancement (no, I don't think a simple velocity filter will work here :) ).

So, what am I getting at. Last night, Microsoft announced "Surface". It is arguably the coolest thing I have seen in computer interfaces to this day (and remember I'm in the tech biz as well, so that should carry some weight!) One problem: Current cursor based navigation is nearly worthless. Sure, it won't replace the desktop PC anytime soon, but it is a sign of what is to come. Cursor navigation is extremely important, and a much easier target to hit than full limb control, don't get me wrong, but sometimes advances like Surface make me take a step back until the big picture is back in focus.

Enough pondering... Back to reading Fetz papers...

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