News of the world

This blog is in the first case meant for myself so I don't forget interesting stuff. So you will find lots of useless topics, but there will certainly be also readings that might interest you. Lots of the items will go about my family, things we do or don't do but also about software, cars, gadgets, music, etc ... .

2 mrt. 2006

Step UI

Step User Interface presented on Microsoft's Techfest. This event gives the MS researchers a chance to show their work to the various product teams at Microsoft, and as such, it's an indication of work that may someday move beyond the research stage and into the hands of businesses and consumers. One of the interesting works presented this year is the Step UI.

The Step UI evolved from efforts by Microsoft researchers Brian Meyers, A.J. Brush, Steven Drucker and Marc Smith to extend the current model for interacting with a desktop computer. The result creates a way to interact with a computer while dealing with a variety of repetitive tasks. The StepMail application uses an off-the-shelf “dance pad” to let a user carry out commands in e-mail — such as scroll, open, close, delete, flag and place messages in folders — by tapping a set of six buttons on the floor. Another prototype application, StepPhoto, allows foot-controlled scrolling and sorting through digital photographs.

“Many information workers spend a majority of their time trapped at their desk dealing with e-mail. We wanted to provide them with an alternative,” said Brian Meyers, a member of the Step User Interface Project Group involved in the prototype. “By allowing information workers to stand and continue to read, delete and flag e-mail messages, StepMail gives them a break from the keyboard and mouse, which reduces the risk of repetitive stress injury in their hands and wrists and engages more of their bodies’ muscles.”

Besides giving computer users a way to stay more active at their desks, the Step UI technology has potential to help people with limited hand dexterity to work more productively. It also allows computer users to give their hands regular breaks from using their keyboard and mouse, which the Centers for Disease Control and other health organizations recommend to lower the risk of repetitive stress injuries. Microsoft researchers’ study findings will be presented at the April 2006 ACM CHI conference in Montreal.

Actually the concept is quite easy and it can be done by yourself. Buy a dance pad, write some .NET code to navigate through your e-mail client and BAM you've build your own geek-fitness-workout-machine. I should buid one myself because I gained a lot of weight since Christmas and I don't seem to get rid of it.

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