The future of user interfaces seems to be gesture-based, at least if one simply looks at where research dollars are flowing and what products–yes, like the Kinect–are coming to market. But the peripheral is not dead. Jinha Lee at the Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab sees a different future, one that dispenses with gravity to create a much more tangible yet futuristic UI that lets users move and interact with floating, gravity-defying objects in 3-D space.
Lee’s prototype ZeroN is a small metal orb floating in free space that users can manipulate by moving around and placing in midair. Suspended by a highly tuned electromagnetic field, the orb really does seem to levitate, and the degree to which the system keeps the ball stable even as it is moved around on all three axes is pretty mind-blowing. The ball floats until it is moved, and when placed in a point in space it stays there. And with an added layer of software surrounding it, the orb becomes a tool for all sorts of applications.
See on www.popsci.com
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