Summary of on-going research...


We are interested in the creation of user interfaces that are truly human- (as opposed to computer-) oriented. We are especially interested in interfaces which make much better use of human world-models and the perceptual system. Some examples include:


Peripheral Perception - Moment-to-moment we acquire information about our environment outside of the area of primary attention or focus thru "background" or "ambient" sound, peripheral vision, and the "subtle" action of other senses. We are attempting to design user interfaces which use these processes to provide information about a computer or computer-controlled or monitored system.


Physical User-Interfaces - Human beings have the skills of daily practice and millions of years of evolution to deal successfully with the physical world. But computer interfaces thru projected images and pointing devices provide only a very narrow abstraction. We are interested in physical interfaces, like the "soft bookcase", which make use of locational and kinetic memory, sense of place, etc.


User-centered and Ubiquitous Networking/Computing - Always present computers not as a focus of attention, but to enhance other human activity. In these applications, the presence of and any interaction with computers should be invisible, or become invisible once a person becomes used to the behaviour. For example, when you walk into an office, lighting and temperature are set in your preferred fashion and the whiteboard displays your most recent work. Food packaging and microwave oven that correctly cook automatically. Instead of an electronic book with clickable words and phrases, a smart book that displays definitions and annotations based on the reader's eye scanning and rest pattern. A baseball bat (or golf club) with internal gyroscope and tracking system to train a player's muscle memory or improve a duffer's chances of hitting the ball. The conception and definition of this new kind of system presents significant challenges in user-level function and experience, systems architecture and software, and strategic planning and business / infrastructure models, and will involve fundamental reworking of many existing assumtions.


Amanuensis - The ultimate personal secretary. A device which monitors and records all of your activities, interaction, and sub-vocalizations and that interprets, files, and organizes that information for later recall and use.


Adaptive UI - In many activities small amounts of personalization, adaptation, and learning can yield a large increase in usability. For example, applications can restore state and configure themselves assuming that what you want to do now is similar to what you have done recently (or done recently in the established context). Learning and adaptation must occur across all levels of activity, which presents a challenge in current systems.


Programming Environments - Automate as much as possible of the mechanical activities of program development and remove them from "foveal" focus so a person can concentrate on the things that only a person can do. For example, in "A Graphics Oriented Interface for Ada Program Development" (Unpublished, David Reisner Consulting, 1986), we described a "fisheye" system with key focused activities in a central area and more automatic and monitoring activities (less recently used source, program consistency and build status, etc.) displayed progressively further towards the edges of the display and in progressively smaller and more abstract (graphical) forms. (Note: At about the same time, George Furnass published a completely separate but in some ways similar concept for "fisheye" displays with a somewhat different abstraction model.)


Administration-free Systems - One of the reasons your watch is useful is that it requires so little attention but reliably provides the information desired. Systems involving computers should strive for an equal level of usability.


Sonification - The sonic representation of environment, data, and process.


Score Extraction - A skilled human can listen to a piece of music and write down the arrangement and score. How can a computer do the same?



David Reisner  -  Synthesis  -  info16 <at> <this domain dot com>