What are you talking about? NUI? Didn’t we start with UI (user interface) then move to GUI (graphical user interface) and then move to UX (user experience) as the focus for creating interfaces for software and web development? So, now there is another … NUI!
What is NUI? Natural User Interface. Huh? Well … with the popularity of the iPhone, Windows 7, Windows Mobile 6.5, and many other mobile devices … and soon to be released, Q1 of 2010, Windows Mobile 7 … touch screen technology is starting to catch the eye of most consumers. In fact, one could argue that touch technologies are going to the interface of choice for a lot of high level consumer users. Simple interfaces that allow for simple finger/hand gestures.
However, there are issues with today’s current GUI’s. http://10gui.com/ attempts, thru a video, to explain the issues that we have with current GUI’s and put into perspective a different way to look at design of NUI’s as the next movement for user interaction and experience.
Below is a snapshot of a NUI design. Doesn’t look much different than any other UI … but, notice the 5 small circles with + signs in them. Those are actual finger inputs from the right hand of the user. The video will explain this more, but you can see with the ability to use more than one input point, various hand gestures will be able to perform more intuitive input to an application/web site then ever before.
Below is the video that I mentioned above. Listen carefully to the current issues and see how using a gesture based UI can transform the experience of the user with the application.
My final thoughts are more additions to the NUI that is described in the video. Here are a couple of ideas that I think would really make this NUI shine. Keep reading …
Multiple Groups in Application Space
I think that the grouping in the application space as mentioned above is very cool. However, what if you could group your groupings? What if you wanted all your photo editing software in one grouping … all your email sites and programs in another … and all your web surfing browser sessions in another? What if you wanted to save these groups so that you could load them all again later? If you look at the image above the video in this article, you can imagine being able to scroll up and down lists of groups. What if you could drag or copy one application from one group into another? What if you could file applications or files into groups? This would be very intuitive for the user, as well as provide a means to organize your work, play, etc. into your application space … or as I would like to say, work space.
Infinite Workspace Map – For quick file/application searching
If the multiple groups were implemented … you would obviously be able to zoom in and out, as they showed in the video, of your application space, but that could take some time if you are not aware or don’t remember where your file and/or application are in the groups. So, it would be really nice if you could popup a transparent map that allows you to quickly navigate your application space without having to zoom in and out with a lot of finger/hand gestures. Maybe you could implement a search box, similar to Spotlight on the MAC or the quick search on Windows, that would highlight the search results in the map.
Programmable Custom Gestures
What if you could create custom gestures which would load applications, search for files, perform maintenance tasks, call friends, etc. The ability for you to create your own custom gestures or collections of gestures would allow you to get tasks done quickly without having to only be limited to the predefined basic gestures of the system. Maybe you would turn on a record gesture(s) mode that would record your gestures and allow you to attach a text/video/audio/gesture help feature to help you remember the gesture and maybe playback the gesture for you in case you forget how to use it.
Automatic and Custom Lists
This is a minor addition to the already existing feature set that is in a lot of mobile applications. The ability for the system to remember your last input (text, application choices, file destinations, etc.) and provide them in quick lists that would popup instantly or with a gesture. This would allow for instant input into fields or other application actions.
In any case, you can see how important NUI design is going to be to software and the web. I would love to hear any feedback you might have on this topic here on my blog or via Facebook or Twitter … usernames for them are Edyg023.