Tuesday, March 18, 2008

PicLens +

Minority Report anyone? Enter PicLens, the first of a plethora of cool tools that mimic, in a way, how Tom Cruise moved images in Spielberg's SF adventure. In the NY Times article titled Coming Soon: Nothing Between You and Your Machine, the concept of moving past windows to work with systems has been around for a long time, the difference now is compute power and new software languages.

"The idea of directly manipulating information on a computer screen is almost as old computer graphics terminals, going back at least to 1963, to Ivan Sutherland’s Sketchpad drawing system he created at M.I.T. for his Ph.D. thesis. Since then, a thriving scientific and engineering discipline has sprung up around systems that bridge what was originally called the man-machine interface. There has been a broad exploration of pointing devices, alternatives to keyboards for entering information, voice-recognition technologies, and even sensors that capture and interact with human brain waves.

What is new is a convergence of more powerful and less expensive computer hardware and an inspired set of mostly younger software designers who came of age well past the advent of the original graphical user interface paradigm of the 1970s and ’80s."

The part of the Times article that really impresses is what Sun Computer is doing with Processing, an open source java based language able to ramp up visualizations of complex data in ways that will amaze. One such stunning example is Flight 404, an environment that defies description in terms of how data is imaged in ways that makes intuitive sense to anyone who views it.

"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." - Wizard of Oz

For another take on interface design, click here.
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