So today I watched Minority Report that bear lent to me and noticed, apart from that Philip K. Dick liked to write stories about future prediction, the computer interface Tom Cruise used was reminicient of what Keanu Reeves used in Johnny Mnenomic, only without the goggles. That is, not only did they use their hands as if they were a computer mouse, but gestures were added that performed functions you’d normally find in some hotkey or drop-down menu list. I really think that this kind of interface (albeit rather exaggerated in the movies to be efficient), along with voice commands, is the future. Except, they aren’t the future at all. Gestures are already here.
My prefered web browser, Opera, for its speed, low system resources and customability, turned me on to mouse gestures (a system which Mozilla subsequently copied). Mouse gestures are mouse movements, including clicks, wheel rolls and drags, that allow quick access to functions normally without having to use a keyboard (also useful for those who have trouble using a keyboard). According to Wikipedia, Mac actually invented the first mouse gesture, the drag and drop. Since then, it’s been all Opera for pushing the bill and popularizing it. I can go forward, back, reload, stop, change/close/open new browsing tabs, open link in new tab, etc., including things I’m not even aware of yet. This is to the point that, thanks to Opera’s configurability, I don’t even have a browsing toolbar. No arrows, stop signs or anything, because I wouldn’t use any of it; the gestures are simply quicker and more convenient.
Back to the point, while watching the movie I thought how cool it would be to interface my system like I do my web browser. Actually, it’s a common habit of browser gesture users to try to navigate Windows like they do their web browser, and just end up openning a drop-down menu instead of doing something else. But, again, this technology is already here. StrokeIt is a pretty powerful Win app that puts gestures into your OS, but goes from application to application, so it doesn’t interfere with gestures in programs you already have. Some gestures are pretty arbitrary, but it also incorporates Graffiti, that Palm OS way of writing letters with a stylus. It can do anything a hotkey can, which is apparently alot, with just a flick of the wrist. I didn’t even know there was a hotkey that could close MDI windows, or windows within windows. Anyway, I’m using and customizing it already, but I’m just scratching the surface, so I don’t have too much to say at the moment.
You Mac-ies should look into what kind of gesture software is available.
Also, yes, I have tried the voice commands thing, like I mentioned above, with a program called Dragon. While, according to a co-worker who worked with people with physical impairments, it supposedly works great. She says that some un-impaired people use it to dictate papers instead of having to type them. Though, I didn’t find that kind of ease of use to warrant me using it over a keyboard.