Filed under SIGGRAPH
I started the day in Course 3: Sketch-based Interfaces. This course was about using sketching (i.e. using a pen interface) as input to a computer.
This technique throws out the idea of using the ubiquitous WIMP (windows, icons, menus, point and click) interface in favor of using a more natural human interface...drawing with a pen. The computer does more work so that the human can work the way he is accustom to working.
They showed an example of a 3d modeling package. It simplified the user interface by providing the user with only a single 2d view. The computer assumed any drawing was meant to be on top of another object on the screen. So if you drew a 2d rug, the computer would assume it was meant to lie on the floor, and would create a 3d rug for you. What if you wanted the rug to float in the air? You simply draw a shadow in order to position the rug in the air...pretty slick!
This course really makes you rethink how you should write computer software. They used some techniques that were clearly easier for people to learn, but were nothing like the software we use today.
They listed a few SDK's for getting started with sketch-based interfaces:
- Tablet PC SDK
- Ink as a first class object
- Somewhat limiting
- Window Vista's Windows Presentation Foundation
- Doesn't have all that Tablet PC SDK ahs
- Uses Rubine's Recognizer (Rubine 1991, an oft-cited paper)
Example sketch-based applications:
- MathPad2 - math
- ChemPad - organic chemistry
- UCR Circuit Tutor - analog circuits
- Microsoft Physics Illustrator for Tablet PC - physics simulator
I'm tempted to get a Tablet PC just so I can play with this stuff.
Next, I headed to the Emerging Technology area. I wanted to see Microsoft Surface, which I heard would be on display there.
There was a large group of people around the Microsoft Surface area. I waited for a while until I could get close enough to try it out. They didn't show anything new...everything they showed I had seen in their promo video.
I did get to play with the video puzzle that used real glass squares that the Surface would project portions of a movie on. Your goal was to reconstruct the movie (some of the squares were upside down, which caused the movie to be played inverted).
I asked about the way Surface could ID objects played on it. It uses circles of varying size and position as a bar code. I asked why they didn't just support bar codes and the guy said that the camera couldn't make out the details of a bar code.
In one example, you place a credit card on Surface and drag items from your bill to your credit card to pay. For this to work, the credit card needs to have the special ID circles on it. I asked if I wanted to use my existing credit card, could I make my own dots. He said there is nothing special about the dots, so you could print your own pattern on an adhesive and add it to anything.
The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) was on display and I got to play with it a bit. It is very different than typical laptop...it would take a little getting used to. I didn't play with it enough to get a feel for where this project is going.
They had some e-ink on display. It looks just like paper...but it is a video screen. It looks perfect from any angle and the text is very sharp and easy to read with the high contrast. They had an example of a display that could be rolled up like a scroll...try that with your LCD!
Later, I went to the Fast Forward session to get a preview of the upcoming papers. It's a great way to figure out which papers you should check out.