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Natural User Interface Research

Increasingly intelligent devices and more natural user interfaces using voice, touch, and gesture are starting to emerge in mobile applications and technologies such as Xbox Kinect. Soon wall-sized displays, powered by ultrafast processors and advanced software, will enable the next generation of immersive computing experiences — all part of the emergence of Natural User Interface (NUI) technology. Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft, gave a glimpse of more NUI technologies during speeches to students at Duke University and MIT

According to Steve Clayton's recent entry in the Official Microsoft Blog, Mundie’s demonstration showcased a large stereoscopic 3D display that highlighted immersive human-scale computer interaction.

"Craig was able to walk into a 3D world where he could shop and play games, interacting with people in both the physical and virtual environment in a very natural way...What happens when the computer no longer fits in the palm of our hand? When tables, walls, mirrors and other objects are connected and have the ability to respond to our voice and touch, or interpret our gestures and motives? We’ll be able to interact with technology in much the same way we interact with each other, according to Clayton.

"Future interfaces will go beyond touch-based interaction, adding and combining voice, vision, gestures and immersive experiences, and leveraging technology that is contextually aware," Clayton added. "Computer systems will understand things like our preferences, the environment we’re in, and what we are trying to achieve. Our devices will know where we are and what nearby technology can helps us achieve what we’re trying to do."

At this week's ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in New York, Microsoft demonstrated it's NUI LightSpace project, which combines elements of surface computing and augmented reality research to create a highly interactive space where any surface — indeed, an entire room — can be fully interactive.

A short video demonstrating LightSpace technology can be viewed here.

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