Designers Create A Prototypical "Star Trek" Computer System
The project, called RoomE, uses off-the-shelf hardware and custom-designed software to create an environment in which the computer is always watching and responds to both voice and gesture commands.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
Technologists at the Austin offices of design firm frog have combined sensors, projectors, and custom-built software to create an entire room that responds to voice and motion commands. The project, titled RoomE, is one of the first examples of a type of interface previously only seen in science fiction, where the computer is always aware of who's in the room and can react accordingly based on the person's needs. Frog fellow Jared Ficklin says, "A lot of people seem to be working on various pieces [of the interface] but no one has yet to combine them. That’s one reason we had to build one for ourselves." The project is a proof-of-concept and not intended for commercial release.
What's the Big Idea?
RoomE represents an attempt to traverse the gap between today's heads-down interfaces and the resulting behavioral issues -- such as people bumping into each other because they're deep into their smartphones -- and more natural interfaces that "act like ecologies, rather than single organisms." As a potential template, the project offers lots of ideas for a future world in which everything is connected. In the meantime, the frog team offers a guide on their Web site for people who want to build their own RoomE.
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