Computer users can cut the cords of their mouse and keyboards and move into a cordless world, but by far and large we are still tied to our computers via the mouse and keyboard wires or no. Microsoft researchers see a future where we might not need a mouse and keyboard to interface with our computers and technology and this new world doesn’t require you to talk exclusively to your computer either.
Researchers Kfir Karmon, Jamie Shotton, and Hrvoje Benko are working on a future where rather than using a mouse, you might just need to move your hands to insert an image into a presentation or add a quote, at least that is what Karmon envisions. Shotton wants us to be able to use hands in a VR environment just as we do in normal life with the ability to perform small and agile movements with hands to do things like press buttons, pick up tools, and more.
Benko wants to combine VR with simple physical objects like buttons on a piece of wood to create much more complex and realistic simulators that combine virtual reality with real world objects. That could perhaps revolutionize training in certain fields. No matter how they get there, the main goal with this research is to make interacting with technology more natural.
“How do we interact with things in the real world? Well, we pick them up, we touch them with our fingers, we manipulate them,” said Shotton, a principal researcher in computer vision at Microsoft’s Cambridge, UK, research lab. “We should be able to do exactly the same thing with virtual objects. We should be able to reach out and touch them.”
The team wants to make technology adapt to people, not make the person adapt to the technology. In the future, the goal is to allow users to interact with technology using a range of interfaces including speech, vision, and body language just as we would when interacting with a person. The team is developing several technologies, one of them has the ability to precisely and accurately track hand motion. “We’re getting to the point that the accuracy is such that the user can start to feel like the avatar hand is their real hand,” Shotton said.