You’re a computer whiz today, able to perform keyboard shortcuts, multi-touch gestures on your laptop’s trackpad or other touch devices. But have you ever stopped to consider what the future of the computer interface might be?
Many consider the wearable glove that Captain John Anderton wore in the 2002 movie, Minority Report, to be the future of interaction between humans and computers. Instead of keyboards and mice, users will be able to interact with virtual screens, accessing and manipulating information, seemingly without any hardware.
Here’s the thing, it’s not just in the realm of the movies anymore. Intellect Motion, a startup based out of Singapore and funded under MDA’s iJAM Tier 2 scheme has been hard at work developing a wearable controller that allows you to interact with almost any computer device. The company is embarking on a Kickstarter campaign to raise US$80,000 from 1 August 2013 to 31 August 2013 and are currently accepting feedback from early-adopters before the campaign starts. You can also vote on how the iMotion should look like.
At press time, the prototype that we got to demo works on the PC’s Linux OS with plans to incorporate Windows and Apple OS’s as well as mobile OS’s. I got a chance to demo the device on both a PC and the Oculus Rift. Here are some thoughts.
Highly responsive and accurate
What’s really impressive about the iMotion is that it’s fast and accurate. This device responded without a hitch to all the inputs I was giving it and there was hardly any noticeable lag, in fact my experience was quite the opposite.
At some points of the First Person Shooter (FPS) that I was playing, it felt like some very slight movements made big motions in the game. The developers assured me that a user could adjust the sensitivity and allow the program the respond to any user’s natural motion or preference. While we didn’t have time to tweak the sensitivity settings, the iMotion showed immense promise with it’s initial demonstration of the controller’s accuracy.
Another impressive feature is that the iMotion can seamlessly integrate with any modern web camera. This is a great feature because it allows the mainstream consumer to be able to pick up the iMotion controller and integrate it with their current computer setup. It’s also testament to the iMotion’s ingenuity in making this accurate motion control technology available across the board instead of requiring users to purchase expensive equipment just to enjoy motion control technology, or to innovate on it.
Part of Microsoft’s success with Kinect was bringing powerful motion control technology to a mainstream level. Casual gamers or tinkerers and hackers could all access the hardware and develop innovative computer interfaces for programs. iMotion is taking a step in this direction, all the while being 10 times faster and 20 times more accurate than the current XBOX 360 and will be six times faster and 10 times more accurate than the upcoming XBOX One console. If anything, this could well be the key toward a new era of designing interfaces for future computer programs.
It’s not a perfect interface device but..
While the current iMotion holds plenty of promise, to an avid gamer and computer user such as myself, it still has not attained the holy grail of seamlessly integrating with the user. This is not an issue with the software or the device’s speed, accuracy and responsiveness, more so than it is about the usability, design and behavior of using such a wearable device.
To elaborate, we are still in an era and culture where we are used to interfacing with computer programs through haptic devices such as a keyboard or mouse, this is not a natural human motion. It just has become natural in our era of computers. On the other extreme, touch devices attempt to bring us more human controls by making us swipe and touch the device screens, as if we were touching physical paper or a book.
Although Intellect Motion will integrate haptic feedback onto the iMotion, the way you wear the device on your palms still seem unnatural, especially when you constantly face them forwards toward the camera. This very action dispels the illusion that I am controlling a program with actual movement, just because of the way the user has to use the device.
And this is exactly the sort of feedback that Intellect Motion is looking for before it embarks on its Kickstarter campaign in August 2013. They want to raise US$80,000, but before that, they’d appreciate feedback and comments from users. If you want to be involved in the future of motion control, leave your early-adopter feedback here.