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back to article Hate the Windows 8 touch UI? Try Kinect-like finger shaking instead

Microsoft is pushing hard to promote Windows 8: its first operating system to let you point, swipe and prod your way through desktop applications and actions - quite possibly without the need for a touchscreen or mouse, thanks to gesture-sensing tech. Windows 8 will be built for x86 and ARM compatible processors. On the Intel …

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A bit of gesture control would be a very nice feature - far more appealing than touch for desktops and some laptops. Most of the time I rest my hands off the keyboard when reading things on the screen and being able to just air swipe to scroll down, change tabs etc would be nifty if it worked. Not so great if the recognition is spotty and has lots of false positives.

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Anonymous Coward

Random opinion

For people with tablets, this interface will be pretty damn awesome.

For people with PCs and Laptops, it'll be endless frustration which will result in some people downgrading (as many did from Vista to XP) and others finding hacks to permanently enable the old interface.

For people with touchscreen monitors it has some use. But very limited, could be entertaining for iuno... certain games, navigating through pages, but overall I still see a lot of people reverting back to default windows.

As a tablet interface yeah great, I just wish they wouldn't force it on us everywhere, but then again it's microsoft.

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JDX
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Re: Random opinion

Don't be stupid, they're not going to force motion control on you simply because that isn't an option for many users. You'd be able to turn it on/off.

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Headmaster

@AC 13th Sept 2012 09:13 GMT "I just wish they wouldn't force it on us everywhere"

Try "Classic Shell" from Sourceforge, it's free. (El Reg took a look at it and liked what they saw):

http://classicshell.sourceforge.net/

It gives you the start-menu and moreover its default setting (which can be changed) ensures that it boots directly to desk-top. As a desktop os it's pretty good - very nippy. As far as the touch-ui performance in the functional sense goes (as different from its appearance which I freely confess reminds me of a Barrett's Liquorice Allsorts Christmas Collection as far as the colours are concerned) I think that reserving judgement until we have actually had some time with kit optimised for Win8 and multitouch might be an idea. I have it installed on a (crappy) Acer W500 and even on that the touch ui appears to work decently, but, and it's a big but, it's how it actually performs on the new kit that is the question.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC 13th Sept 2012 09:13 GMT "I just wish they wouldn't force it on us everywhere"

Now I'm in a real dilemma.. Classic Shell = Good. TIPKAM = Bad. Giving MS money for TIPKAM is as good as aiding and abetting and as good as saying 'Hey MS, your new interface is lovely, I'll pay for that!'

I really hope MS see some sense really :\ They won't of course.

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Windows

@JDX

Just like they're not enforcing desktop users to use a touch-optimized environment eh?

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Coat

I just wish they wouldn't force it on us everywhere

Well a new interface can be sold as progress but to get the most you must have training. And who's best to provide that? Microsoft of course.

I see this as a perpetual annoyance with Microsoft -- keep changing the UI ("it's better than before") and then offer to help ease the pain by taking more cash off you in the form of training. Good business of course, but do we really need it?

Coat coz I need to find that training brochure...

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Angel

Leap Motion

For $70 easily one of the must have purchases of next year.

The pr0n indistry must be champing at the bit to let people fondle some virtual bewbs.

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Re: Leap Motion

I'm on the list for one too. Hopefully it'll live up to the hype. I think they've got it right by using a limited *upwards-facing* sensor, so -with a bit of luck- it won't pick up other people or unrelated gesturing if you scoot back a little bit.

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Advantageous

In my experience, both touch and stylus are inexact pointing methods, at least by desktop Windows standards (before Windows 8). So at the moment I prefer to use the type of stylus that drags the cursor around the screen without touching, so that you can see what you're pointing at before hitting it, and I do the hitting part with a mouse, trackball or trackpad button, instead of tapping the screen, because tapping also disrupts positioning, I find. I have the impression that this camera solution works similarly, but without requiring a stylus. And cameras may be available more widely, and be more useable with a keyboard in the way.

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Boffin

That's your problem right there...

"If I'm working on PowerPoint I will go to my familiar PowerPoint.”

PowerPoint != work

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FAIL

I can see it now....

Every time you eat a sandwich, sip your coffe or scratch you nose etc the screen changes and you have to switch back.

Thanks but no thanks.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I can see it now....

>Every time you eat a sandwich, sip your coffe or scratch you nose etc the screen changes and you have to switch back.

Douglas Adams saw that coming a long time ago- I'm fairly sure the engineers have implemented a work around, Just as touchscreen phones incorporate a proximity sensor to disable the screen when the handset is held against your ear.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I can see it now....

"I'm fairly sure the engineers have implemented a work around"

Speaking as one of those engineers... not so much. The nice thing about touch screens is that engagement is obvious (touch the screen to interact with it), but when a deliberate command-invoking hand gesture begins and ends in a video stream is far from obvious. Voice interfaces have the same issue which is why they haven't taken the world by storm either, despite having been around for much longer than visual recognition systems.

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The solution in original Star Trek,

to operate the lift, you pull the lever and then state your destination. And then the lift goes up, down, and/or sideways, as required.

One for the Chocolate Factory, I suppose, actually.

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Anonymous Coward

ah, mid-air gestures, I have used them for years!

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FAIL

Question for Gideon

<quote>My gut feeling is most [desktop] Windows 8 users after a while will go with the classic Windows user interface,” chief executive Gideon Shmuel <unquote>

Dear M Shmuel,

And just how does one go about activating/using the classic interface in Windows 8 without third party software ?

Cordially Yours

Somebody that would like a native Classic interface

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Pint

Looking further ahead . . .

. . what will happen when the machine detects users tearing their hair out?

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Happy

I have given various programs two-fingered salutes

Not that they respond

But then I usually give the salute when the %$#@ software is not responding to keyboard and mouse either.

I also think that gesture-controlled, just like voice-controlled software, is a really good idea for open-plan offices. Methinks the BOFH would have a field day.

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I have a Kinect

It's fabulous. Really, it's a wonderful piece of kit. It picks up everything so quick, recognises each of us in the household individually, has very impressive response to movements.

For playing games in a big room, it's a brilliant bit of tech.

It does have some issues though. If someone's sitting watching, it'll pick them up too. Especially if they scratch their nose or something. People who don't know what it is come into the room and watch, and it picks them up and gets confused. It loses my hand and finds someone elses. If someone walks behind me, it'll see them and assume they are either another player or worse still, that it's me.

This is all manageable playing games at home - close the door, "Oi! Get out! You're messing up my game! ", ignore the phone ringing, etc.

But then I think of it in an office environment. There are people walking around all the time. Standing behind you having discussions, going to the loo, looking at your screen as you're sharing some great piece of coding genius with them, getting coffee, etc etc etc. My phone will ring, I can't ignore it just 'cos answering it will cause an unwelcome hand movement. I might be sitting here for hours coding away (or, erm, typing responses on El Reg). I will need to drink coffee, snack, look in my drawer, pick up a pen, turn and talk, and so many other things that will get picked up and possibly interpreted as a gesture.

If this works in an office, I think it could have a place, but I'd also be amazed. In fact, I'd be astonished if it could be made to be discerning enough and reliable enough to be much more than an extremely frustrating distraction. But then, I was astonished when I first used my kinect. Time will tell.

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Re: I have a Kinect

Part of the difference is that Kinect being used for gaming is deliberately trying to see everyone in the room, because they might be potential players. It's quite capable (especially the newer for-Windows versions) of picking out the person closest to the screen and happily ignoring other gestures from other people it can see.

The really tricky part is actually defining a "gesture language" that is simple enough to quickly perform the tasks you'd want, without being too easy to mis-gesture and trigger something by mistake.

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Coat

Instead of reacting to hand gestures ...

why not get it to lip-read ?

"Open the pod bay doors, HAL"

Didn't there used to be a Rise Of The Machines icon ?

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Terminator

Access Denied

The RoTM icon is available only to members authorized by the Automated Responsibility Scanning Engine.

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Sign language?

Does it have the precision and accuracy needed to understand a sign language for the deaf? I gather the Kinect can't manage it because it can't locate fingers. Being able to enter text with a sign language could be a big thing, if people were willing to learn it.

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Trollface

Re: Sign language?

Why would you need to enter text via sign language when you can simply use ye olde keyboard?

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Re: Sign language?

Why would you need or want to use ye olde keyboard if you know sign language and your computer understands sign language?

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Coat

Will we still be required to give a three-finger salute or will just one finger do?

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I am all for greater R&D on input devices

I work on a PC roughly 12-15 hours a day. I write code, and am constantly switching between keyboard, mouse, keyboard, Alt-TAB between windows, more mouse.

I have often wondered what it would be like to have interface devices or softare which works off eye tracking or gestures. I lack the knowledge on how to do this, but I can imagine the ability to switch screens or click button based on eye tracking, or switching between tabs and windows with a gesture. A camera could be mounted into a keyboard, so you could make gestures literally a few cms off the keyboard. That's a far more efficient movement than going for the mouse, and back to the keyboard again. Over a day that's a huge efficency boost for me.

OK, there needs to be work done to cut through the visual noise of an office environment, or not carry out a Ctrl+Alt+Delete when someone sneezes, but that's what R&D and refinement is about.

Early pioneers didn't quit on the internal combustion engine because "that petrol stuff can get a bit burny", so I am all for MS continuing work in this area, and not dropping it because of a few issues to be worked out

I want my Minority Report interface in the next 10 years.

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Re: I am all for greater R&D on input devices

"I want my Minority Report interface in the next 10 years."

Do that 12-15 hours a day for a few weeks and your shoulders will be solid as a rock...

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Re: I am all for greater R&D on input devices

In great need of exercise to burn calories, I don't see a downside here - combine exercise with working behind a desk: Onto a winner here!

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Anonymous Coward

But it's NOT Windows 8

It's Windows v6.2. Open a command prompt and type ver if you don't believe me.

Micro$oft have lost the plot

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Anonymous Coward

I like the way that Microsoft surface is referred to as a cum-slab

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