The idea for GAUNTLET came about when I was watching the sci-fi movie Children of Men. There is a scene where a guy types to his smart phone like device by simply “typing” in air with some sensors and wires wrapped around his hand. It is kind of funny that in the movie they are still using smart phone like devices. Especially considering Google just announced their futuristic glasses few days ago, which I can only imagine will replace the portable screens we carry in our pockets today. Interestingly, it seems like Valve, a well known software/video game company, is also exploring their own version of the “Terminator vision” device.
A lot of us want to integrate technology into our everyday life seamlessly, and wearable computing seems like the perfect solution. There are, however, many tough challenges that will require all sorts of different skills to solve. Some of the technical challenges include power source, UI, and physical design that’s ergonomic and unobtrusive. There are also non-technical challenges such as regulatory changes, privacy concerns, and other social-economical problems that will surely surface with the introduction of the new technology. Some of these problems are unforeseeable, but I want to talk about a few potential problems that are apparent today.
In the Google glasses video, the user controls the device with his voice and motion (head and maybe even eye tracking). In most situations, this new control scheme would work fairly well. But what if I am at a place where I can’t talk? And what if I need to play a video game or even just write a blog post and update my status? I think until more advanced neural control is invented, a keyboard device is still the best solution, and that’s where GAUNTLET adds value. The glove keyboard would go hand-in-hand (no pun intended) with the AR devices such as the Google/Valve glasses, as it will be a dedicated wearable input device.
I can imagine a future where all electronics are interfaceless. They won’t have any buttons or screens. Need to microwave something? Touch the microwave oven with GAUNTLET (version 10), and through NFC (near field communication) you are paired with the oven, whose interface will pop up on your glasses, and you can use GAUNTLET to set the cook time. Need to print something? Touch the printer, and now you can control the printer. Etc. The point is that devices don’t need to have the hardware to support user control anymore, because the control will be “built-in” to the user with the glove and the glasses.
Only months ago such technology is still just science fiction that we can only witness in a movie like Children of Men or Minority Report, but the truth is there are already people and companies, smart people and powerful companies that is, working on making wearable computing a reality and most importantly making it accessible. Soon.