forward thinking about the UI

Michael Haney thezorch at
Mon Nov 23 21:39:32 GMT 2009

On Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 12:10 PM, Fred Roller <froller at> wrote:
> If I am getting the sphere concept you have in mind correct then you are
> thinking of a "room" like that of the star room in Star Trek NG or
> Xavier's mind control room in X-men; just virtually.  Focus would be on
> the center front.  Add a hud and you would be set.  Am I close?

They called it Astrometrics and it was introduced in the movie Star
Trek Generations and a different version was used in Star Trek Voyager

> I do remember group, a while back, was trying to use the Doom engine as
> an OS and create a virtual OS 3d.  Don't know what came of it though.

Never heard about this before.  Did a Google search but found nothing
on it.  Sounds interesting but isn't the original Doom engine a bit

> As for UI replacements, the simplest change I have actually seen, though
> not marketed, was a keyboard/mouse replacement.  It involved 8 toggled
> keys.  The keys rested in center and had two additional positions -
> up/down.  The 8 keys in this setup had 256 possible positions beating
> the 104 key keyboard.  Setup like:
>    [1]  [2]  [3]  [4]     [5]  [6]  [7]  [8]
> the center two keys (4 and 5) worked in combination for the mouse.
> up-up=up  up-down=right, etc.  Using something like this with goggles
> makes navigation and keystroke easy with in VR environment.  In
> addition, 256 - 108 = 148, leaving plenty of room for custom key
> assignment.  The technology used in some vehicles to provide heads up
> display could be used for goggles, albeit faceplate at first.

That's a similar setup to a Braille keyboard but with two additional
keys.  Such a keyboard should theoretically have more versatility than
a regular one but it would have a few limitations.  The biggest
benefit would be desktop real estate, such a keyboard would be
smaller, but the trade off would be that such a keyboard would
"require" two handed operation more so then current keyboards.  Hunt
and Peck typists would be S.O.L.  And those who use the WASD keys for
FPS players would be out of luck too unless they got one of those
special controllers made for FPS games.

> Guess the technology is there, just not in the right recipe of combinations.

Its not that the technology isn't there, but getting the public to
adopt the technology that's the real trick.  The keyboard you proposed
above exists, I've seen something similar to it on once.
There is also Apple's new mouse which has multi-touch functionality.
They're recently released the Windows drivers for it, BTW.

The reason why the old tried and true keyboard & mouse combo hasn't
been replaced by anything else is because they're so easy to use, and
they've been around so long and have changed so little over the
decades.  Yeah, a few extra buttons were added to the keyboards and a
wheel on the mouse, but those are evolutionary changes not
revolutionary changes.  Any new kind of computer interface that would
replace the keyboard & mouse combo would need to be revolutionary and
just as easy to use and learn or it just won't catch on with the
general public.

Michael "TheZorch" Haney
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