What are Natural User Interfaces?

A growing list of devices built with natural user interfaces (NUIs) accept input in the form of taps, swipes, and other ways of touching; hand and arm motions; body movement; and increasingly, natural language. Tablets and smartphones are the first in a growing array of devices that allow computers to recognize and interpret natural physical gestures as a means of control. These natural user interfaces allow users to engage in virtual activities with movements similar to what they would use in the real world, manipulating content intuitively. The idea of being able to have a completely natural interaction with your device is not new, but neither has its full potential been realized. What makes natural user interfaces especially interesting this year is the increasing high fidelity of systems that understand gestures, facial expressions, and their nuances, as well as the convergence of gesture-sensing technology with voice recognition. Users interact with their devices in an almost natural fashion, with gesture, expression, and voice communicating their intentions. The next wave of NUIs will likely be electrovibration, while involves the use of an electrostatic force to produce detailed tactile sensations that users can feel. Seen as the next evolution of touchscreen technology, it will allow users to not only provide touch-based input, but also tactile output via a wide variety of textures, topography, and other features as they interact with the screen.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Students today walk up to whiteboards and try to swipe; not being able to do so disrupts the thinking process. Once natural user interfaces are prevalent, this may not be a problem. - deone.zell deone.zell Sep 18, 2016deone.zell
  • Anything that removes the barriers between creative thought and creative realisation is a terrific idea. I recently had to look at a set of architectural drawings, and tied to pinch and zoom on a particular room, so it is not just our students that experience that particular kind of frustration. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Sep 22, 2016

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • Natural user interfaces would seem to reduce cognitive load, enabling more learning to occur. - deone.zell deone.zell Sep 18, 2016deone.zell - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Sep 22, 2016
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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