Industrial Age Metaphors
One thing that people rarely consider in envisioning the future of collaboration is the opportunity to finally unshackle ourselves from outdated user interface devices such as keyboards and mice. There have been a number of companies that have successfully implemented ambient sensors and displays that are much more intuitive and immediate than the mouse+monitor combination, and there is now an extensive body of research and second-generation 3D user-interface devices that challenge the incumbency of the 2D mouse and Qwerty keyboard.An area that is ripe for development is the combination of surface computing and 3D spaces. There has been excellent work done in education on surface interaction and training using collaborative whiteboarding, and there have been a number of videos posted around the net of the next generation of intelligent work surfaces and displays.Roger Farnsworth, who runs our Executive Thought Leadership team at Cisco, is busy attending the always-entertaining TED conference in Monterey California. He blogged last night about the newest work being done on combining surfaces and displays, and even speculated about their use in 3D spaces.Being a user of 2nd-generation VGA goggles, a projector, and a Wiimote to navigate around Second Life, I can personally attest that the current user interaction model is still clunky and unintuitive. There has been some recent work done on gestural interfaces that was discussed at the MetaverseU conference that may go a long way towards helping facilitate the true immersive effects of these environments. This would allow you to take your visual-metaphor of an office (and your networked colleagues) with you anywhere……be it at 35000 feet on a networked aircraft, or just in the Red Carpet Lounge between flights.