Space-Age Mouse

Just wanted to share my new futuristic ergonomic computer mouse. 


Thumb sits on the left.


Rest of the hand sits fully supported and swoops down towards the right. 


No wrist movement up and down. 


Left and right clicks buttons are at the top.


No bending of the fingers and no reaching.


Mouse helps protect against repetitive movement disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome. 


The HandShoe Mouse fits like a glove. 


It’s made by Hippus in the Netherlands. 


Comes in wireless or wired. 


Choose right- or left-hand model. 


And make sure you order the right size: small, medium, or large. 


Until we have full voice recognition or gesture control like in Minority Report, I like this space-age mouse. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Hey, Gesture Like This!

This new gesture-recognition technology from Leap Motionis amazing.”For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimension with your natural hand and finger movements.”

The closest yet to get us to the vision in the movie, Minority Report.

“Leap is more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard, and more sensitive than a touchscreen.”

Scroll, pinpoint, pan, play, shoot, design, compose, fly–just about everything you do onscreen, but more in sync with how we generally interact with our environment and each other.

I like when the guy in the video reaches forward and the hands on the screen reach right back at him!

I’d be interested to see how this can be used to replace a keyboard for typing or will it be augmented by a really good voice recognition and natural language processing capability–then we would have an integration of the verbal and non-verbal communications cues.

In the future, add in the ability to read our facial expressions like from a robot and then we may have some real interaction going on mentally and perhaps dare I say it, even emotionally.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek (24 May 2012), the Leap is just the size of a “cigarette lighter that contains three tiny cameras inside” and costs just $70–“about half the price of a Kinect.”

The Leap is so sophisticated that it can “track all 10 of a user’s fingers and detect movements of less than one-hundredth of a millimeter.”

At their site, I see you can even preorder these now for estimated shipping at the end of the year.

I think I’ll put this on my holiday gift list. 😉

Don’t Throw Out The Pre-Crime With the Bathwater

Terrorist_screening

The Atlantic (17 April 2012) has an article this week called ” Homeland Security’s ‘Pre-Crime’ Screening Will Never Work.”

The Atlantic mocks the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) for attempting to screen terrorists based on physiological and behavioral cues to analyze and detect people demonstrating abnormal or dangerous indicators.

The article calls this “pre-crime detection” similar to that in Tom Cruise’s movie Minority Report, and labels it a  “super creepy invasion of privacy” and of “little to no marginal security” benefit.

They base this on a 70% success rate in “first round of field tests” and the “false-positive paradox,” whereby there would be a large number of innocent false positives and that distinguishing these would be a “non-trivial and invasive task.”

However, I do not agree that they are correct for a number of reasons:

1) Accuracy Rates Will Improve–the current accuracy rate is no predictor of future accuracy rates. With additional research and development and testing, there is no reason to believe that over time we cannot significantly improve the accuracy rates to screen for such common things as “elevated heart rate, eye movement, body temperature, facial patterns, and body language” to help us weed out friend from foe.

2) False-Positives Can Be Managed–Just as in disease detection and medical diagnosis, there can be false-positives, and we manage these by validating the results through repeating the tests or performing additional corroborating tests; so too with pre-crime screening, false-positives can be managed with validation testing, such as through interviews, matching against terrorist watch lists, biometric screening tools, scans and searches, and more. In other words, pre-crime detection through observable cues are only a single layer of a comprehensive, multilayer screening strategy.

Contrary to what The Atlantic states that pre-crime screening is “doomed from the word go by a preponderance of false-positives,” terrorist screening is actually is vital and necessary part of a defense-in-depth strategy and is based on risk management principles. To secure the homeland with finite resources, we must continuously narrow in on the terrorist target by screening and refining results through validation testing, so that we can safeguard the nation as well as protect privacy and civil liberties of those who are not a threat to others.

Additionally, The Atlantic questions whether subjects used in experimental screening will be able to accurately mimic the cues that real terrorist would have in the field. However, with the wealth of surveillance that we have gathered of terrorists planning or conducting attacks, especially in the last decade in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as with reams of scientific study of the mind and body, we should be able to distinguish the difference between someone about to commit mass murder from someone simply visiting their grandmother in Miami.

The Atlantic’s position is that  terrorist screening’s “(possible) gain is not worth the cost”; However, this is ridiculous since the only alternative to pre-crime detection is post-crime analysis–where rather than try and prevent terrorist attacks, we let the terrorists commit their deadly deeds–and clean up the mess afterwards.

In an age, when terrorists will stop at nothing to hit their target and hit it hard and shoe and underwear bombs are serious issues and not late night comedy, we must invest in the technology tools like pre-crime screening to help us identify those who would do us harm, and continuously work to filter them out before they attack.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Dan and Eric Sweeney)

iGlasses, Your Next Smartphone

Yesterday, a hyped-up video came out by Google on Project Glass.

Basically this is Star Trek-type glasses that provide everything that’s on your smartphone plus some augmented reality, where real world sensation is augmented with computer-generated information.

The video shows the glasses integrated with functionality for email/messaging/phones calls, photos/videos, music, reminders, weather, maps/directions, transportation updates, and more.

Aside from the integration into the glasses themselves, they really didn’t demonstrate any major new technologies–and was sort of disappointing actually.

It reminds of Google+, which came out and didn’t add anything much new over FaceBook, and hence hasn’t really caught on–copycatting just isn’t enough in the high-tech industry, where real innovation is what’s valued.

While I like the idea of more and better ways of getting the types of information and functionality that’s on your smartphone, I really don’t think glasses is the way to go.

Frankly, after having LASIK surgery more than 12 years ago, I am so happy not to have to wear those obtrusive frames on my face anymore, and I certainly wouldn’t want to go back.

I would envision having these functions either built microscopically into contact lens or projected by mini-wearable cameras in front of you as a true reality overlay–and I think Minority Report thought of that one first.

The only way that I would even consider wearing glasses for this was if Apple made them and called them iGlasses. 😉

Computer, Read This

Predicting_crime

In 2002, Tom Cruise waved his arms in swooping fashion to control his Pre-Crime fighting computer in Minority Report , and this was the tip of the iceberg when it comes to consumer interest in moving beyond the traditional keyboard, trackpads, and mice to control our technology. 

For example, there is the Ninetendo Wii and Microsoft Kinect in the gaming arena, where we control the technology with our physical motions rather than hand-held devices. And consumers seem to really like have a controller-free gaming system. The Kinect sold so quickly–at the rate of roughly 133,000 per day during the first three months–it earned the Guinness World Record for fastest selling consumer device. (Mashable, 9 March 2011),

Interacting with technology in varied and natural ways–outside the box–is not limited to just gestures, there are many more such as voice recognition, haptics, eye movements, telepathy, and more.

Gesture-driven–This is referred to as “spatial operating environments”–where cameras and sensors read our gestures and translate them into computer commands. Companies like Oblong Industries are developing a universal gesture-based language, so that we can communicate across computing platforms–“where you can walk up to any screen, anywhere in the world, gesture to it, and take control.” (Popular Science, August 2011)

Voice recognition–This is perhaps the most mature of the alternative technology control interfaces,and products like Dragon Naturally Speaking have become not only standard on many desktops, but also are embedded in many smartphones giving you the ability to do dictation, voice to text messaging, etc.

Haptics–This includes touchscreens with tactile sensations.For example, Tactus Technology is “developing keyboards and game controllers knobs [that actually] grow out of touchscreens as needed and then fade away,” and another company Senseg is making technology that produces feelings so users can feel vibrations, clicks, and textures and can use these for enhanced touchscreens control of their computers. (BusinessWeek, 20-26 June 2011)

Eye-tracking–For example, new Lenovo computers are using eye-tracking software by Tobii to control the browser and desktop applicationsincluding email and documents (CNET, 1 March 2011)

Telepathy–Tiny implantable chips to the brain, “the telepathy chip,” are being used to sense electrical activity in the nerve cells and thereby “control a cursor on a computer screen, operate electronic gadgets [e.g. television, light switch, etc.], or steer an electronic wheelchair.” (UK DailyMail, 3 Sept. 2009)

Clearly, consumers are not content to type away at keyboards and roll their mice…they want to interact with technology the way they do with other people.

It still seems a little way off for computers to understand us the way we really are and communicate.  For example, can a computer read non-verbal cues, which communication experts say is actually something like 70% of our communications?  Obviously, this hasn’t happened yet. But when the computer can read what I am really trying to say in all the ways that I am saying it, we will definitely have a much more interesting conversation going on.

(Source Photo: here)