background image
DigiCULT 29
playing visual and textual information, allowing for a
seamless presentation of displayed information. There
will be lightweight, flat and foldable displays; displays
will appear on fabric, on the surface of any object
through tiny, overlaying screens; and special paint may
turn entire walls into screens. Furthermore, projec-
tion of information over glasses as well as 3D pres-
entation of dynamic information may find broader
use. A state-of-the art industry report on flexible dis-
plays, including chapters on standard as well as new
technologies such as particle displays, OLED (Organ-
ic Light Emitting Diode) and others, is available from
Intertech Corporation (2004).
55
The emergence of ambient intelligence environ-
ments will be accompanied by a proliferation of
interfaces other than WIMPs (Windows-Icons-Men-
us-Pointing devices). In the next 5-10 years, novel
interfaces should highly increase the practicality and
convenience of digital communication, information
acquisition, learning and entertainment. For exam-
ple, the MEDEA+ Applications Technology Road-
map (2003) highlights the `overriding importance of
better user-tuned interaction capabilities of nearly all
applications'.
56
Such user-tuning should ideally be
achieved through highly adaptive, personalised inter-
faces that allow for devices and input/output modali-
ties to be adjustable to each individual.
While single devices may conform to this require-
ment fairly quickly, a major challenge for AmI envi-
ronments lies in the interaction design or, rather,
the authoring of the users' experiences in an envi-
ronment. A good example of this is the `distributed
browser approach' suggested by Philips Research. This
approach suggests a mark-up language to describe and
control the devices within a location. Each device acts
as part of the browser and together they render the
experience. For example, an experience described as
`warm and sunny' could involve contributions from
lights, the TV, the central heating, electronically con-
trolled blinds as well as the ceiling, wall and floor cov-
erings.
57
M
ULTIMODAL
INTERACTION
I
t is envisaged that in the near future multimo-
dal interfaces will to a considerable degree ena-
ble us to control and interact with the environment
and various media in a natural and personalised way.
This should lead to highly convenient living environ-
ments (including opportunities such as entertainment,
learning and creativity), as well as improving working
environments in terms of productivity.
*
Multimodal interaction includes voice, touch,
pointing, gestures, eye movements and facial expres-
sion to communicate needs and wants. One impor-
tant element in multimodal interfaces will, of course,
be hands-free voice control of applications based on
natural language recognition and understanding by
computers to process the human input. On the oth-
er hand, machine output in the form of well syn-
thesised language as well as language translation are
also important features in future interactive environ-
ments. For example, experts think that by 2010 it will
be possible to achieve a reasonably good translation of
natural language. IBM, to name but one example, has
set a goal for its research laboratory to have a natural
language translator working in 28 languages by 2010.
For interacting in virtual and augmented reality
environments, future developments should also lead to
a more immersive experience. Besides more realistic
Gesture or write your story in the air
The image below gives an example of new inter-
face and interaction designs, as developed in stu-
dies by Philips Research. Here a girl in a family's
children's playroom is interacting with an applica-
tion that allows for generating a narrative in whi-
ch she plays a role herself. The scenario includes
motion capture by means of a camera and special
software. To give another example in this domain,
the Korean company MicroInfinity, which, among
other technologies, develops advanced human
interfaces (motion capture, head-mounted displays
with head-movement tracking, etc.), recently pre-
sented a three-dimensional input application. With
a special pen, words can be written in the air and
are converted into a document format.
Sources:
Philips Research Technologies: Ambient Intelli-
gence, http://www.research.philips.com/techno-
logies/syst_softw/ami/background.html; image:
http://www.research.philips.com/newscenter/
pictures/systsoft-ambintel.html
MicroInfinity. http://www.m-inf.com
55
Intertech Corporation
(2004), "Flexible Displays
and Electronics: A Techno-
Economic Assessment and
Forecast", Portland/USA,
2004. http://www.
intertechusa.com/studies/
FlexibleDisplays/Flexible_
Displays_g.htm
56
MEDEA+ Applications
Technology Roadmap.
Vision on Enabling
Technologies of the
future, Version 1.0, p. 8, 25
November 2003. http://
www.medeaplus.org/
webpublic/ExecChapters_
ATRM.pdf
57
Philips Research,
"PML [Physical Markup
Language] - When your
room becomes your
browser". http://www.
research.philips.com/
technologies/
syst_softw/pml/
*
For an in-depth roadmap
for RTD and design in
novel interaction technolo-
gies see: L. Norros et al.,
Human-Technology
Interaction Research and
Design. VTT Roadmap,
Espoo 2003. http://www.
vtt.fi/inf/pdf/tiedotteet/
2003/T2220.pdf
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