NUI Group Community FAQs

Updated: 07-27-2009



Q: What is a "natural user interface"?

The term "natural user interface" is an emerging computer interaction methodology which focuses on human abilities such as touch, vision, voice, motion and higher cognitive functions such as expression, perception and recall. A natural user interface or "NUI" seeks to harness the power of a much wider breadth of communication modalities which leverage skills people gain through traditional physical interaction.

Much in the same way the graphical user interface (GUI) was a leap forward for computer users from command line interfaces, natural user interfaces in all of their various forms will become a common way we interact with computers. The ability for computers and human beings to interact in diverse and robust ways, tailored to the abilities and needs of an individual user, will release us from the current constraints of computing allowing for complex interaction with digital objects in our physical world.

We believe this shift must be defined in an open and communal fashion, one acting as a public resource to better our understanding of interaction modalities and interfaces, thus we ask for the community's help in defining the "natural user interface" term and by contributing to the discussion.

Q: What is the NUI Foundation and the NUI Group Community?

Natural User Interface Foundation, or the NUI Foundation, was formed as a non-profit mutual benefit corporation which was created for the specific purpose of fostering an educational, industrial and scientific community focused on furthering NUI research efforts. Christian Moore originally founded the NUI Group Community in 2006, which acts as an online global community and resource for those who discuss, share and develop NUI technologies in an open, innovative and ethical way. This naturally led to the creation of the NUI Foundation by community members in 2009. Since the creation of the NUI Foundation, Mr. Moore has given his interest in the NUI Group to the Foundation so that it may be allowed to continue in a way that is truly for the public benefit and not usurped for commercial gain by any individual or single entity.

Roles and responsibilities of the NUI Foundation include:

  1. Defining a legal framework for joint projects collaboration and shared intellectual property.
  2. Develop and maintain an infrastructure for project fostering (development and deployment), including communication tools, hosting, statistics and organization of events, meetings and projects releases.
  3. Establish roadmaps for future projects, research areas and standards.
  4. Foster long-term collaboration with industry and education partners.
  5. Gather and allocate donations and funding towards existing and potential projects.
  6. Make available all knowledge and services needed for the implementation said activities (notably to open community, industrials, educational institutes, potential users and to all those interested in collaboration throughout the world.
  7. Promote the profile and visibility of its contributors in the research community, in order to attract new funding/projects from industrial collaborators, high-profile scientist and students.
  8. Serve as a global platform for its members to create and conduct open projects in research and education.
Many hardware and software vendors will have to cooperate in order for these technologies to blend into a solid user experience. In order for that cooperation to take place and blend all the multitude of talents working in this area, the NUI Foundation has been created to act as a catalyst for this emerging paradigm shift.

Q: How can society be empowered and enriched by open-developed and community driven hardware, software and standards?

Please share any comments or questions you may have here.

Also we ask for your patience and support while we continue in the development of the foundation and will soon be publishing details such as bi-laws, structuring as well as sending out formal invites to contributing community members.
Q: Who are members of the NUI Group?

Our community is a global gathering of people who believe that openness and empowering others is crucial in the continued development of NUI related technologies. Our members consist of academe, companies, hobbyist and students from around the world with the goal sharing and advancing computing interaction.

Q: What are some of the projects our members are involved in?

Q: What are some of the challenges our community faces?

  • Confusion in industry/community on terminology.
  • Very complex research topics: Computer Vision, Hidden Marchov Models, Neural Networks, Physics, Statistics...
  • Distributed problem solving and logistics (Global Development Community)
  • Have to understand full range of development... hardware to software.
  • Limited availability of hardware solutions and processes.
  • Lack of set standards (Interaction metrics are less tangible)
  • Legal Issues - Patents, Copyright and Member's Rights
  • Overlap in development and projects
Q: How do we aim to solve these challenges?

  • Free educational facilities, resources and tools to help distribute and promote findings.
  • Web Applications - Community Platform (all open source and development sandboxed so members can quickly view source code)
  • Community Code is an open source project and code/file hosting solution which acts as our distribution hub.
  • Community Generated Publications - NUI Group Authors
  • Community Core Vision + "Track Touch" = Voluntary interaction data collection
  • Simulation tools, abstraction of input and community averaged baseline tests.
  • Local Support Groups - Members in same regions meet/share/teach.
  • Legal Framework and Funding Strategy to achieve grants and assure a prosperous community.
  • More involvement into academic and commercial research firms.
Q: What are some of the community statistics?

  • Nearly 6,000 Members Worldwide
  • 6 million page views across 15,000 cities
  • 45,000 member forum discussions
  • 300,000+ downloads to Touchlib
  • 250,000+ downloads to PS3 Cam Drivers
  • 50,000 downloads for Community Core Vision (tbeta)
  • 2,850 wiki edits
Learn how to help and participate within our community.
Q: What is the intellectual property plan for the NUI Foundation and the NUI Group?

The core problems faced by the natural user interface community are one of interaction, interoperability and respecting/protecting IP. The NUI Foundation is committed to an open source model following in the footsteps of The Linux Foundation, Mozilla, Wikipedia and IBM's Open Source Patents initiative. The Foundation is currently developing a legal framework to operate under a general public license which in general terms would involve a public collaboration to both develop NUI integration technologies and keep the code and interoperability standards available to all those wishing to abide by the open source principles and requirements. Please share your thoughts and comments on the challenges we must overcome.

Q: Are “natural user interface” and “NUI” trademarks?

The NUI Foundation and members of NUI Group believe that the term natural user interface is generic similar to GUI and should be free for anyone to use. Similarly, NUI as an abbreviation for natural user interface is also a generic term. In mid 2008, NUI Tech (Formally Natural User Interface AB - Multitouch AB) filed trademark registration applications in both the United States and Europe for the term “natural user interface.” If their registrations or applications are allowed to stand, they would have the right to prevent all others from using these terms in the computer hardware and software related areas. We feel that this is an untenable situation which would fundamentally injure this emerging technology as well as all of the individuals and businesses collaborating as part of the NUI Group and the NUI research community in general. The NUI Foundation as currently financed by Christian Moore as NUI Foundation, is moving forward to challenge the claim of ownership by any institution of the generic term natural user interface and its abbreviation NUI.

Q: What should be done with the "natural user interface" term?

The NUI term has been used in scientific research as reaching back as far as 1980's, It since has been used and shared amongst community members as well as other entities around the world as being indicative of being part of the group or associated with the natural user interface space. Additionally in 2008, NUI Europe AB started using and has in fact filed trademark applications for the term in both the United States and the European community. The NUI Foundation feels that the trademark registrations or applications on the part of NUI Europe AB are inappropriate because they were not the first to use the term nor does it serve as a source of origin for NUI Europe AB. Because of the multitude of uses by various parties of the term, the legal status of it is somewhat unclear. Therefore, the NUI Foundation is currently seeking comments from members of the community on which of the following alternatives to pursue. We are currently involved in a legal dispute to ensure the proper use of the mark along with keeping the term "natural user interface" free and in the public domain.

  1. To seek to oppose and derail any attempts by NUI Europe AB to take ownership of the term, or
  2. Focus funding elsewhere and a focus less in respect to the term and allow the market to deal with its prevalence and ownership.
As legal issues are typically costly we ask community members to consider making a donation to assure we can resolve these and any future issues we face as a community.

Also comments and give any feedback on these trademark issues so we can decide upon the best route to move forward as a community.

Q: What is the Community Web Platform?

Our community software web suite which aims to be open and community driven/developed, This allows us develop web applications that help in managing and collaborating on our projects. We choose to use standards such as LAMP, PHP and HTML/CSS which can be easily reproduced and redistributed.

  • Blog - Get latest news and search across the community.
  • Chat - Full Chat for scheduled meetings.
  • Code - Community project management.
  • Events - Our events calendar in development.
  • Forums - Our community with nearly 6000 members.
  • TV - A community driven TV station with NUI related videos.
  • Wiki - Our mediawiki archive that helps generate our community's publishing.
Q: What is the Community Core?

Community Core is a modularized playground for the collection and relaying of interaction data. Our first module is called Vision which focuses on tracking human/surface visual data. With nearly 30,000 downloads to our second release the community has reacted quite well.

Community Core Vision, CCV for short (also known as tbeta), is an open source/cross-platform solution for computer vision and machine sensing. It takes a video input stream and outputs tracking data (e.g. coordinates and blob size) and events (e.g. finger down, moved and released) that are used in building NUI aware applications. CCV can interface with various web cameras and video devices as well as connect to various TUIO/OSC/XML enabled applications and supports many multi-touch lighting techniques including: FTIR, DI, DSI, and LLP with expansion planned for the future applications (custom modules/filters). See the project page for more information.

Q: What is the Lux Platform?

Paired with CC, Lux is a cross language/platform framework for rapid discovery of NUIs, It is built for experimenting with emerging interaction techniques, experience design and information visualization. This project is a collection of applications, frameworks and deployment run-times integrated within our Community Platform.

Our goal is to simplify application development cross language while offering a consistent and unified structure to implement multi-modal applications. This will consist of a deployment strategy paired our community software developments and open hardware construction techniques. Here are some the programming languages our member's currently focused on:

  • AS3
  • C/C++
  • C#
  • Java
  • Objective-C
  • Python
  • Visual (Max/PD/VVVV)
We are currently working towards community pre-release which is an opportunity for developers and consumers to test and provide early feedback on features, enhancements and module additions. You can start helping by getting involved within the community.

Please donate to help in our developments of community projects.
Q: How can I become a community member?

Getting started is easy, simply register as a member, and start collaborating with us. Review and learn from our projects and share your own.

Q: What volunteer roles need to be filled?

Contact us if you would like to help in any of these areas:

  • Site Administrators
  • Content Contributors
  • Web Developers (PHP/Ruby/MySQL/JavaScript)
  • Core Developers (C/C++)
  • Application Developers (AS3/C#/Python/Java)
  • Event Coordinators
  • Legal Advisors
Q: What are ways you can participate with the community?

View our current and upcoming community projects.
Q: How does one donate?

We are currently requesting donations (mainly due to paypal) To date we have received a total of $500 dollars from community donations. If you wish to help out join our forums to get started...

Q: Where do donations go?

Donations go directly to contributing community members to further particular project developments. Here is an overview of the areas the Foundation allocates the donations towards:

Design 8%
Events 7%
Hosting 3%
Legal 15%
Publishing 10%
R&D - Hardware 25%
R&D - Software 25%
Sponsorship 7%


  • Design - General graphics/art creation for community projects
  • Events - Funding for local events and hosting partners.
  • Hosting - Service expenses for physical/virtual space.
  • Legal - Protecting communal IP and member's rights.
  • Publishing - Further our editorials and publishing efforts.
  • R&D Hardware/Software - Projects such as LLP/CCV/LUX/Multicam and expanding web efforts.
  • Sponsorship - Contributing community member's can become sponsored NUI Foundation members.
Q: What are some benefits to donating?

  • Keep our websites advertisement free.
  • New project updates, releases and quick support feedback.
  • Fostering and contributions to open source development.
  • Help us organize and share the information we have accumulated.
  • Grow your community and empower others to get involved.
Please be patient as we continue to establish our organization with a highly transparent and collaborative process. We aim to follow in the footsteps of many open source foundations such as The Linux Foundation and actively request feedback from community members in deciding future developments.