Inventors Demo Ubiquitous, Hands Free Interfaces

The VMworld closing general session in San Francisco showcased potential advances in the user interface that may allow more direct interaction with computer systems.
Le showed a cube on the screen and instructed Herrod to concentrate on lifting the object over and over again. A profile of his thought patterns was derived from the effort, which resulted in small upward movements of the cube on the screen before it settled back into place. When the computer applied its summary of his multiple thoughts to the cube, it lifted up and off the screen.

"Now I know what Yoda feels like," Herrod quipped. Le urged him to attempt a more difficult feat, imagining that the cube had disappeared. Herrod stared intently at the bright cube for several seconds. "I'm trying really hard," he said. The computer again summarized his thought patterns and applied the results. The cube darkened as if falling under a shadow, but didn't disappear.

"We're only scratching the surface of what this technology is capable of today," said Le to a round of applause. It will one day allow end users to "experience the fantasy of controlling objects in the universe of their mind, of heightening actual experience in real time."

Le said such brain wave mapping could prove helpful in treating epilepsy and autism after information on the patterns of hundreds or thousands of patients was collected and analyzed. She said she got the idea to try to create the technology after having dinner with a neuroscientist where the two discussed connecting communications, as they occur inside the brain, with the communication means of the outside world.

Asked how quickly his interfaces that can be made to appear on walls and desktops might be put to use, Mistry said, "We're cranking new prototypes really quickly. But it's really not up to us." The results of his and Linder's research are public, with the software involved made open source code. "There'll be real advantage only when it can go to the masses. People will have more ideas on what to do with this than I can fill by myself," he noted.

Editor's Choice
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
John Abel, Technical Director, Google Cloud
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Christopher Gilchrist, Principal Analyst, Forrester
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek