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.”

Diversity of perspective and the strategic value of doubt

Strategy.gifI was in a discussion the other day with some folks espousing the view that urban lifestyles are the answer to a large number of issues faced today. Always being a bit of curmudgeon, I pushed back saying that supply and demand may have something to say about this, since the closer we push people together the more fragile the ecosystem can be, in the area of food logistics, transportation, health care and many other areas. They stated that an urban environment is more creative, like it was a fact.

 

The concept of cities being an engine for innovation may actually be more of a 20th century phenomenon. We now live with virtual communities that are incorporating devices, individuals and even corporations as collaborating entities. We can collaborate more easily and have ad-hoc interactions – bandwidth is really the measurement of distance in many ways.

 

There are also economic factors - as people migrate away from the mid-west, areas of low cost with high connectivity are created. The exodus will likely stabilize or even shift, as the market reacts to the latent value possibilities that exist.

 

I was reading a recently released book Future Smart by James Canton about how we need to open up our world view to what future possibilities may hold and the need to reinvent ourselves. The book definitely has some good ideas and references, but there is an underlying ‘Silicon Valley centric’ view of “we’ve got it right” that distracts and discredits the range of future possibilities.  

 

There are many alternatives as I think about some of the intersections between industries and the possible implications. For example: Some people view the autonomous car as the death knell of the personal vehicles – why own it if it can just be there when you need it. At the same time, the intersection between home energy generation and the storage capabilities of the electric vehicle may make it an essential component of the green home of the future, stabilizing supply and demand for a families energy needs.

 

When organizations get into strategic planning discussions, it is definitely necessary to have a range of diverse perspectives. Everyone is entitled to their option and for this type of planning it is actually the conflicts that point to opportunities. If everyone is thinking the same way, some of you are redundant.

Why do you think the world will be that way? What if it isn’t? What opportunity may exist? As we look at the exponential expansion of capabilities and the underlying shifts in what’s scarce and abundant, trying to reach a consensus will help everyone plan for the future. That process may be what the author meant by being ‘future smart’.

Personal agents and services – we need to expect more

gossip.pngOne area I find exciting is the collaboration between humans and automation that is going to have a significant impact on the future of services. An area that is needed to support this collaboration is Personal agents and there has been substantial interest lately.

 

Bill Gates says he is working on a Personal Agent and you may have seen (included in Windows 10 beta) Cortana -- you know who Cortana is if you play Halo. This is pretty exciting, but I am sure there are some people who remember Clippy and wonder if this will just be a reincarnation. I don’t think so!

 

We have so much more context recognition capability now than we had back then (as well as the computing power to go with it). With all the data around us, there is a need to use agents to help us focus our attention on those areas that need our creativity.

 

I can’t wait to see where the industry takes this, since moving from a generic approach like Cortana to a business specific approach is inevitable. The reassessment and reinvestment in agents is definitely one of the technologies that will shift services in 2015 and later. Industry and even company specific agents will definitely fall out of this work, so we might as well plan to experiment and understand where it will do the most good.

Marketing in 2020

marketing.pngThere have been a number of industry specific version of HP’s 20/20 effort but I just saw the most recent one focused on marketing. The subtitle for the release is Welcome to a new reality of split-second decisions and marketing by the numbers.

 

When they were pulling together this release, they took a number of subject matter experts and allowed them to discuss the key issues they see in the marketing space. It has a number of articles and perspectives such as:

  • An overview of marketing macro trends
  • Real-time marketing
  • Buyers in control
  • Insights from information
  • Too much information
  • Challenges of marketing in 2020
  • The CMO of 2020

In any case one thing that is clear – as marketing becomes more information and context rich, it will become measured by actual and modeled performance more than ever before.

Collaboration between humans and automation

Human Automation.pngFor a long time I have been expressing the need to look at and understand human augmented automation and concepts like attention engineering. Here is an article titled Human-Agent Collectives that recognizes:

 

“People's activities and collaborations are becoming ever more dependent upon and intertwined with this ubiquitous information substrate.”

 

And then discusses the issues from a number of perspectives.

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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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