Oblong and Before

TED.com just posted a talk from this year’s TED2010 by John Underkoffler on his research into gesture interfaces. John is best known for his work on the interfaces in the film Minority Report but has since founded Oblong Industries. The talk demonstrates Oblong’s point-and-touch interface called g-speak.

I have to admit, having never actually used the system myself, that it looks a bit baffling. How does a user know what to do? Don’t your arms get tired? And more fundamentally, what can you actually do? But it’s still fascinating — and we should remember that this is primarially a technology demo. I’m really curious to see some actual apps built on g-speak.

I know John back from when we were both students at the MIT Media Lab — and it’s nice, in his talk, to see some of the fascinating research he did there. Much of it was done in Hiroshi Ishii’s Tangible Media Group. Among the projects he shows are: I/O Bulb and Luminous Room (1998), which used transformed architectural space by using every surface to display and collect information; and Urban Simulation (2000) which took earlier ideas and applied them into a classroom setting. (John’s thesis is online, and discusses all of these projects in more detail.) Watch the TED video to see some glimpses at these projects in action.

It’s fascinating to see how John has moved from holography (where he originally started) to this work with architectural space, to, finally now with Oblong, digital space. Let’s see what comes next…

Illuminating Light
Urp: an urban planning workbench
Luminous Planning Table
early experiments