Early attempts to mechanise text were fraught with jamming mechanisms. Moving the commonly moved keys apart from each other was a partial cure and in 1867 the QWERTY keyboard was patented. This seamlessly made the shift from typewriter to computer and still graces most desktops to this day.
Round about 1980 the very clever people at Xerox PARC in California realised that there must be a better way of managing the man/machine interface so they developed WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer). Ironically it was not Xerox who benefitted from the genius of their staff. It was an upstart computer company just down the road called Apple who used it in their Macintosh in 1984. Microsoft followed a year later with an add on for MS-DOS which evolved into the Windows we know and love today.
But technology continues to roll on and mankind has used it’s ingenuity to come up with a whole new sort of man/machine interface. It is called Gesture. And it is not an acronym, it really does mean interfacing by human gesture. And it is one of the hottest areas of technology just now.
Microsoft have just released their Surface computer, a step change in how the man/machine interface works. Apple have released their iPhone and iPod Touch. These are mainstream Gesture based devices. And of course the film Minority Report gave us a futuristic view of what a Gesture interface could do. It really is the future. Expect very many everyday devices to rapidly adopt this philosophy and technology.
Gaming started with the QWERTY keyboard on devices like the Sinclair Spectrum and Atari 400/800. This was supplanted by joysticks which evolved into joypads. These replaced the keyboard by putting a small number of switches and the joystick into one handheld unit. But now this is old technology, we are in the age of Gesture gaming.
The earliest Gesture gaming device to go mass market was probably the Power Glove for the NES in 1989, a device that was well ahead of it’s time but which maybe lived on in the Nintendo DNA. The Sony EyeToy in 1992/3 is the Gesture device that most will now be familiar with. It is a pity that Sony did not realise what they had, otherwise the PlayStation Eye would have been built into the PS3.
Nintendo, however, did not miss this particular trick. They pretty much bet the company on it. Firstly with the touch screen on the DS in 2004. Then in 2005/6 by adding a motion sensing controller to a mildly updated Gamecube which they called the Wii. The rest is history and now Nintendo are the most profitable company in the history of video gaming.
And this is, without a doubt, the future of gaming. Every video gaming device from now on will incorporate a Gesture interface. It is just so much better than the alternative.
So where do you think the gaming man/machine interface is going? Add your comments below.