I have a few ideas for promoting the mission of the NUI-Group. My ideas are at the foundational level. (By the way, I think it is a good idea to work on a suite of demos that show the range of what multi-touch can do. I would be willing to share some of my stuff with others who’d like to improve upon it.)
1. To better promote the concept of multi-touch, we should consider getting single-touch interaction right. , even though our focus is beyond this. The digital signage and kiosk industries have converged, and the latest buzzword is “Interactive Digital Signage”. This industry has $$$ behind it and companies with $$$ that want to use interactive displays for marketing purposes. Most of what is out there single touch, and it often isn’t pretty.
We need more pleasing-to-the-senses, user-friendly single-touch screen applications, because most people are brainwashed by WIMP and need a higher level of exposure to other means of interaction. Single-touch displays are multiplying everywhere in public spaces. If people have frustrating experiences when attempting to interact with these screens, they won’t be open to multi-touch or other forms of interaction in the future.
In my region, interactive displays are mostly in banks, supermarkets, and shopping centers. The displays give touch-screens a bad reputation. They function like poorly designed web-sites. Pop-ups, banner ads, and “in-your-face” infomercials, accompanied by loud, annoying music.
Is this what we want? If I wasn’t curious about interactive displays, I’d run in the other direction.
It is apparent that few developers of interactive large-screen applications know about user-centered design, usability testing, or other HCI concepts.
2. NUI group members who have posted videos of interactive screen applications on the web might want to make sure that the videos are polished, and that the applications that they use to demonstrate multi-touch applications are beyond “proof of concept”. The applications should be portfolio quality, since your demo just might lead to a job!
I just looked at my old video clips from about 18 months ago and cringed. It is clear that I was holding the video camera in one hand while interacting with the screen with the other. I have updated a few of my older “experiments” and they look much nicer, so I will upload new video clips soon. (Although my demos were on a single-touch screen, they were developed with multi-touch interaction in mind.)
3. NUI group members who are employed in the area of web design could consider working on contracted projects for single-touch displays, since most of the displays rely on web apps. If you can do single-touch applications well, and demonstrate some creativity and innovation, you are likely to make a positive impact and help pave the way for future multi-touch work.
Some of the companies who are now involved with single touch displays will have a need for multi-touch applications in the future, since several companies such as Dell, HP, and NextWindow have multi-touch-capable screens. I’ve heard that to work with Windows 7, a solid knowledge of Windows Presentation Foundation and Silverlight would be useful. I also think knowing something about 3-D graphics and game programming would be helpful.
4. Bring information about the NUI group to any conference or workshop you attend or present. I realize in hindsight that I should have done so during my last two presentations, since there were people in the audience from all over the world.
I sometimes post about usability and interactive displays in public spaces on my Technology-Supported Human-World Interaction and Interactive Multimedia Technology blogs.
By the way, are there any NUI Group members who are female? One of my other causes is to encourage women to consider technology-related fields. I’m a certified in school guidance counseling and school psychology. As a female and mother of two daughters, this is important to me.