Infoworlds Jon Udell raises the question of why high performance GUIs have not emerged. He bemoans the fact that computing is stuck in the KVM-keyboard-video-mouse mode of operation. That is certainly true but I have a lot of friends and colleagues that have broken out of that paradigm with touch screens, gestures, speech commands, light wands and other devices.

Yet I have to agree with Jon. I personally decry the demise of the HP Touch Screen initiatives and the promise that was Magic, Go, and pen computing. Likewise the gestures that Operas browser have pioneered, or the brilliance of some of the interface elements of Palm and other PDAs just dont make it broadly to the PC. It appears for some unknown reason GUI innovations like these have been cut short by major players.

Sure there is the way-overpriced tablet PC. But for some reason the GUI wizards at Apple, Microsoft, and Open Source Linux have yet to pickup on the opportunities that new touch interfaces present. Perhaps the gamesters with their evolutionarily overwrought mice => joysticks have led us down a GUI Dodo game path ? But I keep wondering if there are not people working on speech commands or light gestures or sound prints behind the screens, so to speak, at one of the Research institutions. Lets take light gestures for example. Eliminate the mouse/joystick to screen hand-eye co-ordination and precision debacle by using light shining through the screen to a sensitive sheet surface behind. Suddenly a whole world of direct gestures, light bursts, and color/wavelength or intensity changes are available conveying information with none of the wear and tear problems or precision ambiguities associated with touch screen devices. Wow!

However, looking through the CES 2006 gadgets galore – such GUI interaction devices were not a big item. I wonder why? Perhaps the issue raised by Jon is really that innovation here was foreclosed and shutdown prematurely. The likelihood is that PDAs,  mobile devices, embedded screens + i/o devices or the MIT-designed commodity notebook will see more GUI software and hardware innovation than all the Office Assistants in Hollywood.

(c)JBSurveyer 2006