On Human Machine Interfaces – Future or dream?

February 17, 2006

We’ve seen it before in comics and movies like Minority Report. This device developed at NYU is a dream for science fiction lovers and widget maniacs. Look at the new display! It’s fantastic!

For years I’ve seen experts, researchers and journalists announcing futurisctic interfaces and a revolution in how we communicate with machines. Is this revolution realy coming? Is it real o a dream?. I must recognise, I like the invention. I’d like to play with it, but, how about working ten hours a day with it?. History of human development shows us that improvements of productive processes are commonly(if not always) driven by some energetic efficiency. First of all, we try by all means to reduce our physical/manual labor. Finger pads, mouses, trackballs are finger adapted devices which save human energy, and indeed they are better (considering just energy consumed) than devices adapted for hand, arm or body movements. On the other hand of the equation is output. Only if the increase of output (usability, speed,…) of using these devices exceeds the value we lost (costs) – measured in energy or equivalents – then we’d see a revolution of Human-machine interfaces (HMI). I’m unable to foreseen the future, but for now I think that the benefits of using these gadgets are less than costs. So my forecast is that this revolution will not take place, at least for the moment. Some specific areas such CAD, home electronics or surveillance systems could have other surplus scenario and maybe this technologies might be adopted soon, but generally speaking, I don’t see a future with ubiquitous touch-screens.

Rumours: Apple is in the mood to release a new gadget with similar technology. The TPod?

To think about: Apple’s killer product, IPod. What HMI uses? The Thumb!

Strategy Tip: Think broader, take in account not just advantages of technologies but costs (not only money) too. They both are mirror images of the same thing.

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