The University of Glasgow brings us a totally new kind of interface, to check for example the SMS inbox and power level of the mobile phone without looking at it.
By shaking the cell phone the mobile phone generates audio and vibration.
So it can give the feeling of small balls bouncing around inside of the phone. Each ball stands for one SMS and different senders generate different timbre (wooden or metallic balls). By shaking the phone, you can easily check approximately how many messages there are in your inbox and how important they are.
Another scenario is to check the power level of your phone by shaking it. Your phone feels like a bottle filled with water. So when the power level is low, it sounds like a bottle with little water left.
Check the video to get an impression of this new interface:
This interface is very intuitive, because it takes elements from the real world (balls in a can or water in a bottle) and uses it as metaphors for virtual items (SMS-messages and power level). This takes user-interfaces one step further. We already know desktop metaphors (for example: images of folders represent the datastructure "folder"), but these new metaphors combine audio and tactile feedback in a way that lets us experience interaction in a more natural way.
In order to finish my studies and to get the degree of "Master of Science in Informatics" I have to work on a diploma thesis. There are a lot of interesting master thesis subjects at our Department of Informatics, so I had a lot of choices. But one subject catched my interest in particular:
Ontology-Based Cultural Personalization in Mobile Applications
In plain English: I will develop different menus for navigation on a mobile phone. First the application will ask the user some questions, and then show him a navigation that should suit his cultural background. For example a grid-navigation with deep navigation-hierarchy or a list-navigation with a flat navigation-hierarchy. To make the decision which menu to take, the application needs some information about cultures, this information is taken from an OWL-file (this is something like a XML-file).
This thesis gives me the chance to deepen my knowledge of the following subjects:
New shipped laptops have two cameras integrated. This leads to two new innovations:
3D-Chat: Calculating the two pictures delivered by the two cameras, the computer can generate a 3 dimensional picture of your face.
Tracking of eye-movements: With two cameras it's possible to calculate how far away the face is from the screen. Then the computer calculates at what point on the screen the eyes are looking at.
Eye-tracking delivers several new possibilities:
Controlling-device for disabled people or enhancing the control for non-disabled persons
Monitoring of attention-level of the user
Arguments: Problems could arise, if the user's face is not parallel to the screen (eg. if the face is diagonal to the screen) or if there are two faces in sight of the cameras. With two cameras you don't have the problem of configuration. Having the two pictures should be enough to calculate the distance.
Questions: Would it be possible to do eye-tracking with only one camera? But then, the eye-tracking would need to be configured before use, because one camera can't calculate the distance between the user and the screen all by itself, right? It needs two know distance between the eyes to calculate the distance, as far as I can see.
The today released software-update makes the IPhone a remote control for AppleTV and Macs. You can control Music and Videos from wherever you are in your flat.
Arguments: Using the IPhone as the central controlling device for music or movies fits perfectly in the living-room-entertainment-strategy that apple follows with Apple TV. The Difference to existing remote controls (see "Current Development") is the bigger touch-screen and therefore better interaction-possibilities. For Example you can easily scroll through your cds, what is not possible with other devices.
Moreover because the IPhone has no fixed buttons, the interface can be adapted to such new application-areas...
Questions: What other application areas can you think of? You could also control other devices in your household, for example the heating or the oven also from outside your house. Would that be reasonable or rather useless technological gimmicks?
Current Development: Patent from apple to use the IPhone as a remote control
Salling Clicker remote control of Itunes on a Nokia
Salling Clicker - Control computer-applications from your mobile phone. With this application it's possible to control ITunes like if you had it on your mobile device! For example you can also see CD-Artwork etc. directly on the mobile phone! (try it for free, you'll be impressed)