What happens when big data meets a better UI?

It has been great looking at big data this week but mostly we are still stuck with dragging a mouse around a screen. That is another limit that needs to go. It would be great to be able to manipulate data on a screen in other more tactile ways.

A giant pile of data deserves something that is more like a dump truck and bulldozer than the spade and shovels / pen & pencil approcah we currently use.

“Remember the data interface from Minority Report? Well, it’s real, John Underkoffler invented it — as a point-and-touch interface called g-speak — and it’s about to change the way we interact with data” – as he shows us.

Here is a giant floating cube of images which John directs around the screen with special gloves and a few almost Tai Chi moves as he navigates data and other content in 3D.

“That’s the old way, that’s the old mantra: one machine, one human, one mouse, one screen. Well, that doesn’t really cut it anymore.” (John Underkoffler)

and again – how to interact with the data much more visually.

John Underkoffler at TED

Watch the full clip below. Perhaps the best part of the clip is when he uses his interface to drag charcters from various films onto a separate workscreen and combine them. Film makers and editors will love that whan it becomes available.

Also impressive was John’s insistence that most or all of this technology would just come embedded in our computers within the next 5 years.

As this talk was in 2010 I supect that the Kinect interface on Xbox uses very similar ideas and we have already seen some of what he demonstrated.

Hopefully this means that the other features and capabilities are coming soon to a bigger screen near you.

Back in 2006 Jeff Han showed us a cheap, scalable multi-touch and pressure-sensitive computer screen interface that may spell the end of point-and-click.

Since then he has founded a company called Perceptive Pixel. Go over to their site to wacth a short clip of the 27″ touch and pen capable screen.

If you are a designer I can see that would be a very transformational interface. Perceptive Pixel also have 82″ screens “world’s largest projected capacitive, optically bonded multi-touch display.” More about Jeff Han here

Ok – so big data AND a better UI ( user inteface) I’d like to use one of those – I’d also like a 27″ giant iPad that I can use to remix music or edit video and it looks like much of this is coming.

The other great thing is that when something like touch & kinetic controlled screens are commercially available (xbox is there already) we reinvent the ways we can interact.

At first uses are fairly prosaic and most are virtual reruns of familiar activities. It gets much more fun when we can take the new UI to another level and leverage the greater power of big data with much more powerful interactivity.