Evolution of Computer Interfaces

The Sixth Sense video from the 2009 TED in India has some thought provoking ideas not just on the evolution of computer interfaces but also the merging of the “real” and virtual worlds.

Although some ideas (e.g. Projection of information onto people) emphasized visual techniques too much and didn’t anticipate other senses like voice recognition and virtual agent feedback whispered in your ear, it is still compelling to consider the implications of when ultra-small projectors are included in our cell phones. I especially liked how much more flexible and integrated a workflow combining the computer with paper could be.

What is also exciting with respect to affordability are new products like LEAP which appear to extend capabilities similar to Microsoft’s xbox kinect at a price of approximately $70.

Although it is still in the early stages, SIRI is exposing the capabilities that will eventually become commonplace for voice interaction with a virtual assistant.

Apple doesn’t normally issue concept videos but they did do one 25 years ago called the Knowledge Navigator which included many of the items we are more familiar with today. Clearly this vision is something that Apple has worked to implement as new technologies gradually have made the capabilities possible in a consumer product.

Incredibly the knowledge navigator video released in 1987 was released for real only one month late according to calculations made by the web site waxy.org.

Based on the dates mentioned in the Knowledge Navigator video, it takes place on September 16, 2011. The date on the professor’s calendar is September 16, and he’s looking for a 2006 paper written “about five years ago,” setting the year as 2011.

And this morning, at the iPhone keynote,[October 4, 2011] Apple announced Siri, a natural language-based voice assistant, would be built into iOS 5 and a core part of the new iPhone 4S.

So, 24 years ago [from 2011], Apple predicted a complex natural-language voice assistant built into a touchscreen Apple device, and was less than a month off.

Clearly there are many computer interaction breakthroughs in our near future.

What good are you going to do with the powerful capabilities of an intelligent virtual assistant at your beck and call?

Defeating Negative Self Talk Innovation Solution

The quality of our thoughts has a big influence on our life.

Knowledge is available for catching how our thoughts can sabotage our success and applying corrections to lead us in a more productive direction. There are proven benefits to using social motivation (a friend or coach) to progress to implementation from the knowledge. The following are some examples of knowledge sources on negative self talk:

Taming Your Gremlin (Kindle Edition)

by Rick Carson.

Taming Your Gremlin Book
Taming Your Gremlin Book

“Your gremlin interprets your every experience. He has nothing good to say about you or anything you do, not to mention your dreams and aspirations. Just when you feel you’ve out-argued or overcome him, he changes his disguise and his strategy. Grapple with him and you become more enmeshed. What he hates is simply being noticed. That’s the first step to his taming. This and many other straightforward and powerful techniques await you in Taming Your Gremlin: A Guide to Enjoying Yourself.”


“Rick Carson is a genius at exploring our inner conflicts in novel ways. …And there’s a bonus: it works.”

About the Author

Richard Carson lives near Dallas with his wife, Leti, and their son, Jonah. He writes out of his thirteen years as a psychotherapist and as a consultant to human service professionals. His professional background includes service as a full-time faculty member for the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor for the University of Texas at Arlington Graduate School of Social Work. He is a Clinical Member and Approved Supervisor of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, a Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas, and a Certified Social Worker with an Order of Recognition as an Advanced Clinical Practitioner. Richard is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. He consults and conducts seminars across the nation for a myriad of institutions, agencies, organizations and businesses,and may be reached at 7424 Greenville Avenue, Suite 113, Dallas, TX 75231 (214) 363–0788.

Triple Column Technique to defeat Negative Self Talk

by David D. Burns via J.D. Meier

“Your mind believes what you tell it.” — Paul J. Meyer

Negative self-talk is a common problem. The trick is to learn how to turn your inner dialogue from a critic to a coach. The Triple Column Technique is a proven practice for improving your internal self-critical dialogue.


J.D. Meier’s blog post is a concise, to the point, step by step, explanation on how you can use a simple tool to challenge self critical dialogue.

About the Blogger

J.D. Meier is a Microsoft manager known for his work on agile project management. I highly recommend subscribing to the RSS feed of the Sources of Insight blog.

Learned Optimism

by Martin Seligman

Many of these techniques are based on the research of Martin Seligman who was the founder of the positive psychology movement and was elected President of the American Psychological Association for 1998. Martin’s Learned Optimism book includes the principles, experiments, proven results, and benefits of learning optimistic thinking.

I have written previously about Learned Optimism in my Glen’s Life blog.

If you liked these references you might also like:

* The Dirty Dozen: The Twelve Words You Should Eliminate from Your Daily Vocabulary by Rajesh Setty
* Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits by Wayne Dyer
* Why Your Life Sucks: and what you can do about it. by Alan Cohen

I Will Change the World

I took a trip in a time machine and saw a talk from the 2023 TED (Technology Entertainment Design) conference today. (In case you are wondering the time machine was designed on an iPad 3 which is being announced next week). The speech was clichéd but nevertheless it was well done.

I found the speech by (the character) Peter Weyland, an inventor of humanistic robots, interesting because I recently gave a speech myself about how future borg will look more like humans than robots. The technology will be advanced enough to provide its capabilities and be almost invisible because the interface will adapt itself to humans instead of the other way around.

This vision of the future although not explicitly shown in the 2023 TEDtalk will be disturbing/frightening to a lot of people because it suggest that humans will lose control and the robots will take over. The related Prometheus movie trailer (Movie to be released June 8 2012) is even more of a horror story of what could be our end.

Of course it doesn’t have to be this way.

Just recently a new book called Abundance has been released that also presents a picture of the outstanding changes that are accelerating us towards our future and should provide some reasons to be optimistic about solving some of humankind’s most difficult problems. Another Peter, Peter Diamandis has given a TEDtalk in 2012 called Abundance is Our Future. In this scenario technology slays scarcity of resources and the population explosion is seen as a boon rather than a disaster.

It is beyond dispute that massive change will be experienced as time goes on and there will be winners and losers.

The question is – are you seeing the upcoming changes as a source of opportunity or of doom?

Are you going to be driven by fear due to the amygdala (lizard) portion of the brain?

The even bigger question is what are we going to do to create the type of future we want to live in so that time machine can be given a tuneup?

Humanization of Technology

The Humanization of Technology

based on a Socialcast Infographic

Humanization of Technology
Humanization of Technology

Technology is improving and becoming more human centred. Increasingly technology can be interacted with on human terms not forcing users to compensate for technology interface limitations. Despite the enhanced user friendliness of technology, human training will still be a productive ground for optimizing the overall effectiveness of the system. The onus still needs to be on people being clear on what they want to accomplish and what their tool’s capabilities are, with the machine’s role being easy to command.

Mass Production
Mass Production

We are definitely in the age of mass personalization but while people enjoy the benefits of this process being automated there are privacy concerns that require even smarter technology so people can control the distribution and monetization of their personal information. Similar to the increased awareness that economic business models need to take into consideration the impact on the overall environment, the same is true of the need for current information economy business models to evolve for the overall benefit to society. Much of today’s business is based on the ad model where users private information is captured often without their awareness and bartered or sold as part of the selling process.

Human Centred Design
Human Centred Design

Human centred design is a huge advancement in simplifying people’s lives for the better. Interfaces can be optimized for specific functions and computers in many different form factors can serve as multi-purpose devices with software driven interfaces that can ease the interaction learning curve for us humans.

Human centric design examples
Human centric design examples

Smartphones have come a long way particularly with the introduction of the iPhone platform. Instant messengers and social networks have proliferated but are entering a stage where consolidation and federation (open interworking) are needed to promote universal interworking and standardization so users can have it all without undue complexity and limitations.

Smart Technologies
Smart Technologies

Apple is definitely on a roll with innovative more natural user interface technologies like touch interfaces, gestures, and most recently, voice activated Siri. These interfaces make new capabilities possible for more people but still require people to become trained to take advantage of the full benefits. Extending these advanced technologies into high stakes domains like robotic surgery will require advances in engineering and reliability before ease of use will supersede concerns about the risks.

GPS and Recommendations
GPS and Recommendations

GPS has become ubiquitous with its inclusion in the feature set of modern smartphones. It can settle spousal arguments on the best route and avoid people getting lost, but maps for new areas under development may not be up to date. Amazon recommendations and reviews are good examples of information adding to the value chain which leads to it being ever more easy to make a sale that is more likely to be valued by the customer.

Pandora and Driverless cars
Pandora and Driverless cars

Pandora is a good example of sophisticated information processing and organizing capabilities almost creating a magical experience for people to find more music they like. Driverless cars, like robotic surgery, are likely to stay in a niche category for some time until there is an overwhelming risk-benefit tipping point that is reached. Isn’t it enough that your car will be able to parallel park itself?

Create Intelligent Systems
Create Intelligent Systems

There is no doubt that the widespread availability of mobile devices with powerful interactivity (Thankyou Steve Jobs) will serve as powerful platforms for interacting with our world in many yet to be seen creative ways (look at Jambone Up and Fitbit as recent examples). The full benefits will require enhanced communication techniques and ongoing training for people to leverage the technology. Finding the need? Asking users what they want is alright for incremental enhancements but it hasn’t worked for breakthrough innovations which usually are the result of inspired leadership.

Impact Investing can make a Difference

As a toastmaster I found the pacing in the speech distracting – stand your ground man – but the message is heartfelt, thought provoking, and inspiring about how to change the world by combining philanthropy and investing.

Sasha Dichter: The Generosity Experiment | Video on TED.com

The best investment mix for each person will be different but the key message is that impact investment in people can make a difference to chip away at problems that many have thought were impossible to solve.