Posted By John Boladian
Marketing Director, Asia Pacific & Greater China
Trade shows in Japan are often the highlight of the year for me. They’re run with the same precision as the rail networks; getting 40,000 people in and out of Yokohama’s Conference Center over 3 days requires great coordination.
This year highlighted to me just how far we have come with natural user interfaces. Natural user interfaces are critical to intelligent systems, being the interaction point. There is some real innovation happening here, and Microsoft’s partners are leading the way.
· Last year was the first time we saw Kinect- based demonstrations; this year it was everywhere, built into scenarios to engage shoppers when browsing in a store to even a healthcare-based application which looked at your height, weight and body shape to determine your health. Connected to a database of height/weight statistics, it was quite popular. A Microsoft partner had even initiated a competition with local universities to see which school could come up with the most innovative Kinect demonstrations.
· Extending hand gestures into finger gestures, providing more granular control of an application. This programming interface was developed by our partner NEC.
· New panel technologies that are transparent and multi-touch enabled. Perfect for a vending machine for example, where you want to provide information about the products inside but also enable the customer to observe what they are behind on the shelf. Makes for an engaging experience for the consumer--provides some novelty even--but simple to use, as it’s the same familiar method to control as their PC, smartphone or tablet. This is a combined solution from four partners: Scala, iBase, Ittocan and Okaya Electronics based on Windows Embedded 8 Standard CTP.
· Lastly, and although not entirely a natural user interface, but something cool nonetheless: a hands free/wearable computer with tiny projection screen fixed to glasses. This is developed by a division of NEC. An innovative way to allow someone who might need both audio and video guidance from a remote location to guide their work, but at the same time be able to see what they’re doing. Here I am getting a demonstration from our partner –looks cool, huh? And it’s based on Windows Embedded CE 6.0, perfect for portable scenarios.