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The usability of future interfaces starts now - 19/05/2010

Forbes published the article “Your life in 2020”, which is similar to the vision Microsoft has for 2019, in which the expectation is the convergence between the virtual and the real world through augmented reality. For that to happen, it's necessary to solve the issues that are present in today's interfaces.

According to Forbes' and Microsoft's vision, people will be able to interact with real world objects through touch and gesture interfaces, similar to the technologies and concepts present on Apple's iPhone and iPad, in Microsoft's Surface and Project Natal, in MIT's SixthSense, among others.

So the target of the interaction will be related to the information on the internet and users will be able to perform actions on it.

If this target is a person, it would be possible to see his or her information through the data made available by a social network such as Facebook and start a conversation with someone else even without knowing the language they speak, because all speech will be automatically translated.

Social network data displayed by people Image 1 Social network information will be available on a date. Photo: Forbes

If the target is clothing, it would be possible to obtain information about the items and buy them on Amazon for example.

The world as a big shopping catalog Image 2 The world as a big shopping catalog. Photo: Forbes

It's not absolutely certain that this vision will become reality by 2020, however the touch and gesture interfaces will be an important part of the way people will interact with the world.

These forms of interaction are new so we are living an experimentation period when everything seems "magical" and it's not easy to perceive objectively the interfaces that are being built for the new platforms.

This is what a recent study performed published by the Nielsen Norman Group about usability of the iPad applications and websites. The results are still preliminary, but among the findings are:


The complete study is available at http://www.useit.com/alertbox/ipad.html.

In a future where the line between what's real and what's virtual is blurred, where real objects will be interfaces for accessing data and actions; usability issues might confuse people, stop them from performing important actions or even induce them into a mistake in the real world, which could be a catastrophe.

So, improving the usability of today's technologies is very important for building a future envisioned by many people and companies.

While we're still on our way to that future, here is a preview of how 2019 will look like according to Microsoft and the future interfaces for emergency management of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Video 1 Microsoft's vision for the year 2019 Video 2 Future of emergency management of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Diogo Degaki
Usability consultant

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