The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Rethinking User Interfaces

User interface design has gone down some interesting paths in recent months. I just saw this project based on some work out of Purdue that creates 3D designs much like a potter creates pottery. The project is called Handy-Potter.



The program demonstrates a gesture-based shape modeling, winning the best paper award in ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conference. The 3D designs created by this approach is much more intuitive than using traditional CAD tools.


Now that computers are starting to have more gesture-based interfaces, some real innovation in business applications and their interface should be possible. It may not be limited to PCs though, with the level of surveillance enabled by the Internet of Things, we may just tap into the sensing that's around us.


There are also cases where the interface is the sensor itself. A while back, I purchased the Kinect Interface for windows to enable some 3D scanning (of larger objects). It actually worked fairly well even with just the 3D builder from the Microsoft store.



Most of the real design heavy lifting (to stitch together a 3D model) is left to the software, so the user interface is intuitive.


With these relatively low-cost but high-power capabilities, maybe it will bring the Minority Report style interface into normal business applications.


As I said back in 2006 when I saw G-Speak:

“I can't wait to see a BPMN interface defined that allows the movement of work functions and resources around a screen. I can easily see a room of business folks really think about the problem differently when they can physically flail around and reach a common understanding of new and existing business functions.”

Economic growth but flat energy consumption

1st law of thermo.pngThis seems to strain the first law of thermodynamics.


According to this article in IEEE spectrum, the US economy has grown 8% since 2007 but the annualized electricity demand has been flat.


“The third annual Sustainable Energy in America fact book from Bloomberg New Energy Finance found that electricity demand growth, which has slowed since 1990, has come to a grinding halt.”

For more information, visit the Factbook portal on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy website.


Although there is quite a bit of data about what made this happen, energy efficiency through computing had a role to play, through:

  • Smarter buildings
  • Smarter metering
  • And increased efficiency through automation

Most of these efforts have been done in relatively isolation, when we move into a more holistic approach to IoT it will likely fuel even greater efficiencies.

Digital Textbooks could be a signpost to other significant changes

smartbook.pngLately, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about smarter businesses and having an enterprise autopilot. Concentrating on these grand and glorious possibilities can allow us to overlook more mundane and common smart systems that will have significant impact.


New Scientist had an article a while back: Digital textbooks adapt to your level as you learn. It describes rethinking textbooks. After all, they are there to help us learn – what if that can be done significantly better. What if the use of the book informs the author or teacher of areas to be improved in the book or the class as well as the student?


The data in the ebooks today (e.g., ePub) wouldn’t actually need to change, but the way it is presented and the interaction approach that has more in common with IoT techniques could be continuously improved. What else in our environment of things we use could use this kind of thinking??

Tags: education| IoT
Labels: Education| IoT

Looking at the smart home and wondering about the smart enterprise

business questions.pngI came across this post about a self-actualization-house and it made me wonder about the application of these techniques within an enterprise. The concept of this house definitely takes the concept of an environmental view of the IoT to a whole new level.


Although the concept of a house that can create energy and address its needs would be nice for an enterprise as well, there are so many more resources that enterprises consume that needs to be optimized beyond just energy.


With the use of analytics and other techniques having a ‘dumb’ enterprise may be just as unacceptable as the ‘dumb’ house in the article. Business process autopilots will be as common as thermostats. I’ve not really thought about the needs from the same level of stage 1-8 that the article has done for the house but I can see it coming. Taking the articles final thoughts and replacing:

Born -> Hired

Home -> Business

Live -> Work

Family -> Co-workers


Leads to an interesting perspective of the enterprise of tomorrow.

Bringing service innovation/customization home…

TV.pngI mentioned at the end of last year that I thought 2015 was going to be the year of service innovation. One thing that brought that home (literally) to me was when I got a new TV for Christmas. It had a development environment and store where I could create my own apps that run in the TV and interact with the user.


I didn’t get a chance to play with it much, once I figured out how to create apps, but it did make me wonder about the potential for services that were never possible before. The age of passive TV viewing of just what is sent to us seems to be drawing to a close.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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