Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Tired of using a mouse for your computer? Thinking there must be a better way?
I just saw this new experimental way of interfacing with your computer called 10/GUI. (GUI = Graphical User Interface. Others have used the acronym WIMP: in human–computer interaction, WIMP stands for "window, icon, menu, pointing device", denoting a style of interaction using these elements. It was coined by Merzouga Wilberts in 1980. Although its usage has fallen out of favor, it is often used as an approximate synonym of "GUI". That's from the WIMP page in Wikipedia)

10/GUI allows you to use ten interface points instead of just one (a mouse cursor) or two (a scroll wheel). This broadens your ability to interact with your computer and allows you to do more at once. Check it out on this video. It really is worth a watch.

10/GUI from C. Miller on Vimeo.

Although the interface concept (using all ten fingers) is really quite revolutionary, there must be more you can do using ten fingers instead of one than the simple actions they suggest. It suggests that this is going in the direction of virtual reality - actually using your hands to manipulate objects on the screen. But we're not there yet. Part of the problem is that most of us are still in the mouse paradigm and can't yet get our heads around thinking in three dimensions or using more than one finger at a time. But then it works with a keyboard. Right now I'm typing reasonably fast with few mistakes on a keyboard and I can type faster than I can write - which is true of most people my age or younger. So the concept of speeding up the interactions between computer and humans is a solid one. We just need to be more creative.

However, I'm not sure that the "software solution" is all that innovative. Unless you need to keep dozens of windows open at all times it's not really all that helpful. As someone else said it's like putting training wheels on a bicycle - it helps stabilize something that is stabilized by forward motion.

Mac has started using some of these motions but it is inconsistent over multiple applications.
Re-wording the 10/GUI passage above to fit the Mac: a single finger points, clicks, and drags objects like a mouse. Two fingers scroll or pinch-zoom inside windows. Three fingers move windows around the desktop, and three-finger pinching resizes windows. Four fingers switch between applications, and four-finger pinching invokes Exposé.