Move over Apple, Microsoft could be UI leader

Microsoft could be ahead of the wave with gesture interfaces

Known for its attractive touch interface, Apple may have some competition in the next generation of user interfaces, according to an analyst.

"Microsoft Kinect has legs much beyond gaming and perhaps it's the future for interacting in bigger spaces," said Al Hilwa, an IDC analyst.

He said that Windows 8 might have support for gestures, especially if it will connect to a television and act as a set top box.

"Microsoft clearly has opportunity, but it has an execution issue," he said. "They have their hands full with making a good tablet OS, but the opportunity [to take advantage of a gesture interface] is great."

He said there is no doubt that "everyone" is thinking about gestures, pointing out Qualcomm's July 2011 acquisition of gesture recognition assets from GestureTek.

Hilwa called gesture technology "more compelling than 3D" and said that if Apple wants to get in the game it would need to do significant research before making a move.

Exact specifications for Windows 8 are unknown, but another analyst doesn't discount the fact that it could include a gesture interface. Brian Blau, an analyst with Gartner, said that gaming "has presented a lot to us" and said that the major game consoles have skipped touchscreens and gone directly to gesture recognition. With the work on Microsoft Kinect, it could be a natural fit.

Blau said that keyboards and mice won't go away anytime soon -- "maybe in a hundred or few hundred years" -- but that gesture, touch and speech recognition will augment the traditional interfaces.

He said some of the drawbacks with new interfaces is the learning curve that users face. For example, when Palm Pilots were first popularized users needed to learn a special way to enter text on the device, called Graffiti.

Patrick Baudisch, the chair of the Human Computer Interaction Lab at Germany's Hasso Plattner Institute, also doesn't see keyboards and mice disappearing soon, but imagines the form factor may change.

"The holy grail of UI is a [touch] system that produces the tactile properties of a keyboard," he said.

He explained that a touch screen device could have a tactile keyboard appear on demand and noted that the ridges between keys help users type. He said he knew of partial solutions that use membranes filled with transparent fluids and buttons that inflate, but nothing ready for mass market.

"With a little luck, this could be solved in about five years," he said.

Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at Nick_Barber@idg.com and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags popular scienceAppleMicrosoftComponentsInput-Outputdisplays

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nick Barber

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?