Archive for the ‘Human Computer Interaction’ Category

The Magic Trackpad effectively brings the features of Apple’s touchscreens to the desktop or MacBook. Having been using the trackpad for a little while now it’s true benefits have become quite clear. Straight of the bat, it’s great to use for regular browsing habits, like websites, email, moving desktop files etc. When it comes to using tools like Word, Pages, Excel, Photoshop and Flash the mouse is still king. But there is no reason why you cannot use the trackpad simultaneously whilst using the mouse, just to balance your cursor movements.

1. RSI. The greatest benefit of the trackpad so far has been able to ease the repetitive strain injury(RSI) factor. My index finger feels like it’s on holiday by being able to use the weight of my hand to create a left or right-click. I can also use the index finger of my left hand for left-clicks, whilst my right hand manoeuvres the mouse, this really makes using the computer relaxing for the hands.

2. Wireless Bluetooth. Another great benefit is the ability to move the track pad around your work area, because the device is wireless. Working at larger distances is fine since the track pad allows users to zoom in and out of screen content.

3. Mouse Movements. Moving the mouse with just your finger can sometimes prove to be more precise. I don’t game on my computer, but it would be interesting to know if your targeting was more precise. The whole reason for the trackpad is the finger movements ; one finger(Mouse Movements), two fingers(Scrolling & Rotating), three fingers(Zooming) or four fingers(Swiping). Swiping is really a genius touch. Using your four fingers you simply swipe across the trackpad, then the programs that you are currently running are shown to you for quick access, like you can see in the image below. Although you can do this already, having the feature with the trackpad just makes it a whole lot easier, especially if your away from your keyboard or desktop.

4. Design. The Magic Trackpad measures in at approximately 5 inches by 5 inches. The door for the batteries (2x AA) is a chrome flat head which runs along the top of the device, whilst the finish of the trackpad has a gray matte look to match. The base of the trackpad houses two buttons which can be set for right and left click, these buttons are also acting as the trackpads rubber stoppers, which is why Apple is Apple. If you happen to own the Apple wireless keyboard, then this device sits seamlessly next to it.

5. Cost. Priced at $69 in the US and £59 in the UK, it’s not absurdly as expensive, but now I cannot imagine life without it, can you put a price on that?

Find out more about the Magic Trackpad at :

USA : http://www.apple.com/magictrackpad/

UK : http://store.apple.com/uk/product/MC380Z/A

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In Aug 2007, I decided to leave my current 12 month phone contract and opted for a Sim only deal. Advantages included were not being tied to a contract, I got a reasonable amount of minutes for my buck, and as a bonus there was the choice of a free bolt on, like free 3G web access. But underneath I was preparing to purchase an iPhone.

When it did finally arrive on the market, and although it offered some great features, my HTC hardware was still kicking it’s butt. So began the long wait for an improved iPhone. Now that’s over …phew! It was time to try again. During the time that has passed my contract provider added an extra 100mins to my monthly allowance for free. Bonus. So now all I needed was a new Sim free iPhone iOS4.

The look and feel of this phone is second to none. From the side it looks like a very slick piece of machinery with it’s stainless silver attennaes, and in your hand it’s 149g weight feels like your carrying a mini screen computer that has a phone on it.

Slick Stainless Steel on the iPhone4Image courtesy of Apple

The only protection cover available currently from Apple is the phone is the bumpers. However they are not exactly useful when it comes to plugging in the 3.5mm, because although 90% of the jack can be inserted, the final click is impossible. Some friends have suggested I ask Mr Stanley to cut the edge of the hole. The problem here is that there really is no room for a bigger hole due to the proximity of the top noise cancelling microphone. Anyway the marketplace will soon be awash with cover after cover, and I’m sure they will take this issue into account. But this product is not worth £25, it’s only worth £5 Apple.

Returning now to the phone review…

Battery times have been reasonable so far, lasting 9-5 with a solid caning. But it does still need boosting during the day so do juice up when you can. By monitoring your apps and maybe using some battery status software you can always track your current usage availabilities and make of most of your battery across the day.

Switching to Wi-Fi on an average 5Mb download speed, the phone handles processes fairly quickly. It’s not lightening, but your not having to wait long at all. This makes the phone really useful around Wi-Fi spots in order to handle multiple tasks. I only have a 2.5Mps 3G speed right now, so it’s okay for most apps and sending video by email, however some web pages and particularly video can be extremely slow. But that’s a network issue so we won’t go there right now. Using 3G is still a battery caner, so really stick to as much Wi-Fi as you can for heavy web sites and apps.

The 5Mp camera with its 720 HD video is great and works well in good light. The flash and low light still is no match for a half decent compact. I really miss the anti-shake technology from my compact but software improvements or maybe an app can help there. Hope this is not a hardware issue.

A good part of the look and feel of this phone is due to the slick scratch resistant glass, I really would not attempt to test it since the other day I did accidentally leave a little scratch on the back. But in terms of keeping it clean, a dust cloth is proving to be sufficient.

As for the issue of losing signal, I simply have not experienced any type of issue like this. I do hold the phone in my left hand and I will continue to test this for a while and see if it really does lose signal, but 99% of the time, it’s fine. Most of the time the signal is behaving exactly as it sis on my old HTC.

Usability on screen has also proved to be very straight forward allowing you to easily add, edit or remove apps, set up emails easily, create video,  sending it in seconds via email and switching between Wi-Fi and 3G has been no issue. There are probably lots of other useful aspects to the maneuverability around the phone that I have not mentioned, simply because I am not a veteran iPhone user. Maybe in the near future and after a good few months of use I can report back and question the real limitations of Apple’s on-screen experience. The touch screen sensitivity is spot on and works really well.

Apple has done well to promote Apps and the world is now really understanding why they exist. Finding apps on the iPhone is a fairly straight forward process, but with a few tweaks it could be even better. For example, in the App store you can search for apps via the Genius section. Initially it shows you around 25 apps, then in order to see more there is a button at the bottom of the list to view another 25. However after installing an app from the second page, if you attempt to return to the list, it returns you to the first 25. Obviously this can get really annoying if you are 10 sheets down, or accidentally view an app way when you were just trying to scroll down. Therefore I have no choice but to write down names of apps I like and to search for them later. Other app sources like ‘App Search’ allow you to add apps to a favourite list, come on Apple, this one really is obvious.

This phone as Apple says really does change things and after two weeks in the world of the iPhone and about 300 apps later, it definitely is worth every penny. Human computer interaction has really taken a solid step forwards and the iPhone helps to bring both software and hardware to work seamlessly together, but then again, that’s what Apple are known for.

I am going to be gutted when the 1080HD 10Mp version arrives, and it will one day, because technology will continue to improve year on year. But I feel confident that this phone can handle most of my digital needs for at least the next couple of years and look forward to using/finding great apps which over the near future I will begin to write about.

Find out more about the iPhone at :

http://www.apple.com/uk/iphone/

Find new Apps at  :

App Boy : http://appboy.com/

App Search : http://appsfire.com/

When a new technology arrives it is then integrated across all types of communication channels and changes the services offered by those channels. Recently HD made its way on to our screens, now you can buy phones that allow you to create High Definition video and upload it directly to the web.

With the imminent arrival of 3D TV, we are going to see 3D overlap itself with HCI(Human Computer Interaction). We will see this in projects like Microsoft’s Natal. This is where the power of hand gestures will now allow us to interact with games and other applications.

The power behind some of this fourth coming technology is a company called Canesta, who have spent a lot of time and money to get to where they are. They have developed a chip that allows 3D gestures to be recognised by the computer and small enough to be fitted into everyday consumer devices.

By placing 3D cameras into every conceivable device will now allow us to change the way we interact with onscreen menus, but also the way we see the on screen information.

Minority Report is just round the corner.

Find out more about Canesta at : http://canesta.com/

Read an article about the story at :

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/29/technology/start-ups/29canesta.html?dbk