Kim H. Veltman
Workshop 12: Patterns of Disappearance, I-Cubed ( Intelligent
Information Interfaces) Spring Days, Athens, March 2000.
Computers link human users in the physical world with a series of computational
worlds often behind a screen. From the 1950's to the 1980's while computing occurred
mainly on a two-dimensional surface, the window and mouse metaphors were
dominant. Beginning in the late 1980's thinkers such as Hiroshi Ishii (MIT) suggested
that we might move from Graphical Human Interfaces (GUIs) to Tangible Human
With the advent of virtual reality and the potentials of three-dimensional navigation a
series of new possibilities arose. Although introduced as idea in c.1965 it was not
until 1986 that this new mode began to gain ground. Thanks to new computational
power this 3-D metaphor will become widespread within the next decade. While
many assume that the 2-D metaphor will simply be replaced by the 3-D metaphor, we
would suggest that both modes will remain valuable and that one of the major
challenges in the next decades is to find methods of moving elegantly between twoand
three-dimensional displays. Some examples will be offered for discussion.
Meanwhile, two other innovations are changing the world of interfaces. A first
is mobility with wireless connections to the Internet. A second is miniaturization.
There are at least nine approaches to have computing at the molecular or atomic level
within the next twenty years. A new project of the US government, for instance,
foresees putting the entire contents of the Library of Congress on an object the size of
a sugar cube. The frontiers of interface research are thus turning to new combinations
of gesture technology, and voice activation. It is feasible that these new methods
would be tailored to an individual. If so what methods will there be to ensure
authentication? How will the system cope with competing commands-- as when two
persons want to watch different programmes on the same screen? If we have such
means for action at a distance will the scenarios concerning TUIs be replace? If they
are combined how will this work.