A Look Into Your Future

Remember the 2002 movie “Minority Report” with Tom Cruise, directed by Steven Spielberg? We were all WOWed by the touch screen computer display (well, actually he never did “touch” it) Cruise so deftly manipulated to access huge amounts of data.

It was imagined by some and made possible by others.

As everyone knows, touch screen technology is already here. In 2006, four years ago, Jeff Han, research scientist for New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, demonstrated touch screen technology. “The interface disappears.” said Han, and this was the way humans should interact with computers.

In May 2007, Bill Gates demonstrated Microsoft’s “Surface” table top computer on the NBC Today Show, and again WOWed us with available technology – in less than five years from when we were WOWed by Spielberg.

iPad was introduced in January 2010 with touch screen technology that was accessible to everyone, making us all feel empowered like Cruise to do amazing things with just a touch. Smartphones are using the same touch technology with pure human – computer interface.

If you watch the new “Hawaii Five-O” TV show, you’ve seen the 4ft x 8ft desktop computer display that transitions desktop images to a wall display at the flick of a finger. (Inside the headquarters of Hawaii’s coolest crime-fighters) Of course, with the explosion of thumb and forefinger, or use of two handed manipulation like Jeff Han demonstrated, the display images are expanded, shrunk and arranged as easily as we saw Tom Cruise doing it. Executive Producer Peter Lenkov said “I explained early on to folks on the crew that the Surface Table was our ‘dinner table,’ a place where our ‘family’ gathered, talked, solved problems.” Even the dinner table has a new definition in the 21st Century.

Prepare to be WOWed again. Spend 5:33 minutes in the world of tomorrow – which may be sooner than you think. Corning [Glass] Incorporated’s presentation “A Day Made of Glass… Made possible by Corning” will amaze you.

Imagine touch screen technology in your library! Touch the OPAC screen to search for what you want. Browsers (people who browse) can touch the display at the end of the book stack to reveal hidden treasures. Touch the library calendar / events signboard display to reveal future library events, or schedule your own future event.

What can you imagine for your library that others will make real?


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2 responses to “A Look Into Your Future

  1. Alexander Mehwald

    I am not so sure about this. Touch screens are a nice thing (especially with tactile surfaces like the ones from Senseg ( http://www.senseg.com/ ). But:

    In what time frame and at what cost could a large-scale application of such technology be implemented in a library? Its not just installing a couple of touch screens – its also rewriting the interfaces so that touch screens make sense and rewriting/creating the content so that it is presented in a meaningful way on a touchscreen. (An example would be directly touching the stuff you are interested in instead of going through a menu and clicking on the name of the thing you are interested in.) Can we do this before the next (better) technology comes along? Will we get our money’s worth? I personally doubt it. Production cycles get shorter and shorter and the next best thing (gesture interfaces/voice interfaces) is already there. Microsoft’s Kinect comes to the PC this summer – which means that gesture interfaces will be much more common. And cheaper than touch screens. And cleaner (imagine the touchscreen of a children’s library – do you really want an interface that you have to clean every hour?). And things like “SixthSense” ( http://www.pranavmistry.com/projects/sixthsense/ ) are already on their way, probably removing the need for us to even offer a dedicated interface or display.

    In the end we are not in the interface business, we are in the information business – so first we should decide how we will be displaying information in the future (digital natives have different needs than digital fugitives), then we should figure out how to convert our content into that scheme and after those two the choice of interface will be obvious. If we want to make a good product we need to design bottom up (user->content->interface) and not top down (What could I do with this pretty display?). Because the next year an even prettier interface comes along and we would then have to start over again.

    I mean, I feel it too. Sometimes you see a technology and go: “Wow, the things you could do with that…” But we have limited resources. And less and less time to play with a technology before a better one comes along. So I would suggest focusing on users and content.
    E.g.: What kind of content would make sense in holographic/3D-interface? Statistics/Graphs? Probably not. Movies? Most of them not. Art and Architecture? Yes, it would make sense to see a sculpture in 3D. But where do we get the 3D-Data? Do we need extra surface data for tactile displays? How much will it cost? Do we have enough users (interested in sculptures) to warrant that investment? Once that is out of the way the kind of interface we then finally use (be it hologram or 3D-Screen) does not matter.

    • Thanks for the additional links to more amazing technology. You obviously gave some thought to my suggestion: “What can you imagine for your library that others will make real?” That was the point of this Post.
      I agree wholeheartedly, librarians have to figure out who we are, what we do, who we serve and then how we can best do that.
      And, MS Kinect is already available for Xbox 360, $150 for the controller and $50 for the Sports game pack.

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