Antiquated Computing Interfaces

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
I'm not sure whether or not this belongs under the "general discussion" category, but this is an issue that definitely needs to be addressed.



After approximately 25 years of personal computing, why are we still using:



1) A completely counter-ergonomic command interface that looks almost exactly like some kind of mutated hybrid of an old-style typewriter and old-style adding machine (number pad).

2) Another completely counter-ergonomic graphical user interface device that look like a rodent with a couple of buttons on it.

3) A conter-intuitive system of managing and laying out applications on a computer screen, which still looks much like an old-style television screen.



Apple's keyboard is significantly different than the standard Windows keyboard, which I find to be a vast improvement. Although I use a standard two-button optical intellimouse, I can certainly appreciate the arguments in favour of a more ergonomic, one-button mouse. Exposé is also a revolutionary way of managing open windows that I find greatly enhances my productivity.



Nevertheless, I feel the computing industry in general hasn't gone nearly far enough in improving the intuitiveness of the computing experience, demonstrating an almost paralytic phobia with regard to taking any kind of user interface risks.



For example, why hasn't anybody come up with a Tekwar-style keyboard (ie a keyboard that's split in two onto each arm of a computer armchair), or a GUI interface system that doesn't require moving my right arm back and forth from my keyboard to my mouse all the time.



It would be nice to see some radical innovation in user interface design, for a change.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Split keyboards have been around for years, even one-handed chording keyboards that you can use in mid-air.



    Plenty of options are out there, they just aren't mainstream because for the vast number of users, the status quo is 'good enough'.
  • Reply 2 of 36
    voxappsvoxapps Posts: 236member
    If the expected interface changed significantly, it would - at least initially - require a lot of inertia to convince customers to switch. Most computer manufacturers would rather sell product and generate revenue than introduce a new paradigm that came along with a set of impediments to rapid adoption. The Dvorak keyboard has been around for decades but it certainly isn't a top-seller, even if it offers clear interface benefits.



    I think good and bad interface designs transcend "old" and "new". After all, we've been using spoons for over 1,000 years and you don't see people clamoring to redesign the spoon-mouth interface just because it's "old."
  • Reply 3 of 36
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    Wouldn't matter anyways. QWERTY keyboards are horrible for your wrists and probably have contributed to billions in L&I claims and Carpal Tunnel. It was designed to keep the keys of an impact printer from sticking. Thus QWERTY was designed to make you a slower typist. Can you believe that? Reminds me of the old joke.



    A young woman was preparing a ham dinner. After she cut off the

    end of the ham, she placed it in a pan for baking. Her friend

    asked her,"Why did you cut off the end of the ham"? And she

    replied ,"I really don't know but my mother always did, so I

    thought you were supposed to."



    Later when talking to her mother she asked her why she cut off

    the end of the ham before baking it, and her mother replied,"I

    really don't know, but that's the way my mom always did it."



    A few weeks later while visiting her grandmother , the young

    woman asked, "Grandma, why is it that you cut off the end of a

    ham before you bake it?" Her grandmother replied ,"Well dear, it

    would never fit into my baking pan."




    There are hundreds of stories like this where some standard from yesteryear carries forward today even though the reason for that standard is no longer applicable.
  • Reply 4 of 36
    nathan22tnathan22t Posts: 317member
    i want a computer and wireless satellite net in my mind.

    then a tube that can feed me. then i will be like a borg...

    except not scary, violent or bent on domination.

    and ill stick with my German name too



    or maybe it will be a bit more like the matrix

    all that needs to happen is a direct link with my optical nerve somehow.

    30".... BAH! ill have like infinite inches.
  • Reply 5 of 36
    gongon Posts: 2,437member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by JavaCowboy

    1) A completely counter-ergonomic command interface that looks almost exactly like some kind of mutated hybrid of an old-style typewriter and old-style adding machine (number pad).



    You know, it would be an improvement if it became customary to make keyboards without numeric pads. It makes sense that the mouse surface should begin as close to the touchtyping keys as possible. The numpad, which probably one in ten people uses in any meaningful capacity, is located exactly where the mouse should be for a righthanded person.



    The numpad is a special purpose device, much more so than a two-button or wheel mouse.
  • Reply 6 of 36
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Gon

    You know, it would be an improvement if it became customary to make keyboards without numeric pads. It makes sense that the mouse surface should begin as close to the touchtyping keys as possible. The numpad, which probably one in ten people uses in any meaningful capacity, is located exactly where the mouse should be for a righthanded person.



    The numpad is a special purpose device, much more so than a two-button or wheel mouse.




    I use the numpad everytime I open a spreadsheet, or have to do any kind of numeric calculation.



    Besides, even if the mouse were where the numpad is, it would still be too far away. I think some kind of intelligent smartpad (with way more functionality than those on laptops, right where my thumbs are) is the way to go. I remember seeing such a product, but I can't remember the name and I don't have the link.
  • Reply 7 of 36
    gamblorgamblor Posts: 446member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hmurchison

    Wouldn't matter anyways. QWERTY keyboards are horrible for your wrists and probably have contributed to billions in L&I claims and Carpal Tunnel. It was designed to keep the keys of an impact printer from sticking. Thus QWERTY was designed to make you a slower typist. Can you believe that?



    No, and neither should you. It's a common myth that QWERTY was designed to slow down a touch typist, but that's simply not the case. I'm all for trying new things, but I also think that it's important to recognize that some things are standard because they truely are better, or at least because they're common (by virtue of the fact that they got here first), and the alternatives don't offer significant reason to switch. I don't think we'll find any revolutionary improvement in the way we interact with computers just by switching the position of keys on a keyboard.



    I wish that I had more time to comment on this topic right now, but I've got to pack for a trip. Hopefully it'll still be active when I've got more time...
  • Reply 8 of 36
    rogue27rogue27 Posts: 607member
    Yeah, numpad is very useful if you ever need to enter large quantities of numerical data. Also comes in handy for games like Civilization or Angband where you have 8 directional movement.



    Anyway, as others have said, the mouse is still too far away from the keyboard even if you don't have a numpad. Ideally, there should be a way to move the cursor without having to remove your fingers from the home keys. How would a person do that? Perhaps the keyboard could be a big touchpad with a keyboard pattern printed on it and people could do sweeping motions to move the cursor? Is that the "smart pad" somebody mentioned above? Even that has some implementation hurdles, but it might be the direction to be looking.
  • Reply 9 of 36
    Other things I question:



    Why do we use keys to turn on our cars?

    *Use your fingerprint, your voice, a credit-card you can place in your wallet, a USB device, a password, a combination of these, etc.



    Why are most pizzas circular when boxes are squared?

    *We need more square pizzas, use all the space inside the box!



    Why are soft-drinks sold on 355 ml (12 oz) and 600 ml (20 oz) cans and bottles?

    *Sometimes I need smaller amounts of soda like 237 ml (8 oz), 192 ml (6.5 oz), 150 ml (5 oz), etc. But I guess those are european sizes, hard to find in America.
  • Reply 10 of 36
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    The short answer to the original poster's question: Legacy is a bitch.



    Macintosh keyboards shipped without the 10-key extension for years and years. I think it premiered on the Extended II keyboard. I'm glad it's there, because I'm one of those 1 in 10 people who's quick on a keypad, and I use it every time I'm confronted with a lot of numerical work.



    Quote:

    Originally posted by monkeyastronaut

    Other things I question:



    Why do we use keys to turn on our cars?

    *Use your fingerprint, your voice, a credit-card you can place in your wallet, a USB device, a password, a combination of these, etc.




    Keys are far cheaper, more familiar, more rugged, easy for an entire industry of third parties to replicate, etc. They are being obsoleted, but very slowly.



    Quote:

    Why are most pizzas circular when boxes are squared?

    *We need more square pizzas, use all the space inside the box!




    Circular pizzas cut across the center allow everyone to grab a slice by the crust. Square-cut pizzas invariably leave someone negotiating a slice with goop dripping down all four sides.



    Quote:

    Why are soft-drinks sold on 355 ml (12 oz) and 600 ml (20 oz) cans and bottles?

    *Sometimes I need smaller amounts of soda like 237 ml (8 oz), 192 ml (6.5 oz), 150 ml (5 oz), etc. But I guess those are european sizes, hard to find in America.




    Cans and bottles suffered from TEH BIGGAR syndrome. I've seen 8oz cans here and there. Actually, the original sizes for canned sodas were exactly the size you're looking for. They got bigger over time, and there's been a bit of a backlash.



    In fact, for years (I'm not sure if it's still true) 16oz bottles would still claim to hold two servings.
  • Reply 11 of 36
    brendonbrendon Posts: 642member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by monkeyastronaut

    Other things I question:



    Why do we use keys to turn on our cars?

    *Use your fingerprint, your voice, a credit-card you can place in your wallet, a USB device, a password, a combination of these, etc.



    Why are most pizzas circular when boxes are squared?

    *We need more square pizzas, use all the space inside the box!



    Why are soft-drinks sold on 355 ml (12 oz) and 600 ml (20 oz) cans and bottles?

    *Sometimes I need smaller amounts of soda like 237 ml (8 oz), 192 ml (6.5 oz), 150 ml (5 oz), etc. But I guess those are european sizes, hard to find in America.




    Why are Soda cans round? And every other kind of can for that matter. A very ineffecient storage shape. Square would be better in that they could fill space more effeniently, for lower shipping costs. Ok maybe they cool easier with that shape but how much? Is it worth it. I could drink from the corner and that might be better, less prone to spill. And for the keyboard, look for it to go bye, bye, as voice command slowly gets better.



    As for the Pizza, I hate square pizza becasue I always end up with the no crust pieces, heres to small square 4 slice pizzas and for large rectangle pizzas that are only cut once down the middle of the length, and as many acress the length as you like, crust for everyone.
  • Reply 12 of 36
    jessearljessearl Posts: 103member
    My best computer user-interface was with my Toshiba Satellite laptop. It had a track-button directly in the center of the keyboard between the G and H keys, I believe. All I ever had to do to use a mouse-like function was to move my finger slightly.



    I'm sure there will be better solutions in the future, but I found it's ease of use far superior to my current PowerBook trackpad.
  • Reply 13 of 36
    groveratgroverat Posts: 10,872member
    Quote:

    And for the keyboard, look for it to go bye, bye, as voice command slowly gets better.



    Yeah, that's what we need. People crowding inside rooms all talking at the same time to computers.
  • Reply 14 of 36
    gene cleangene clean Posts: 3,481member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by groverat

    Yeah, that's what we need. People crowding inside rooms all talking at the same time to computers.



    That's scary man. Sometimes I feel so weird when I see these dudes talking on the phone without any wires with them bluetooth things on their ears, and I'm like, "Hmmmm.. this stuff is weird."
  • Reply 15 of 36
    gamblorgamblor Posts: 446member
    Quote:

    Macintosh keyboards shipped without the 10-key extension for years and years. I think it premiered on the Extended II keyboard.



    Actually, the Plus came with a keyboard with a 10-key keypad (or at least it was an option...)
  • Reply 16 of 36
    I think what many people want is a blue pill interface. Something that is an extension of our thoughts and so much a part of us that we do not even think about it. A cybernetic device that is implanted into our brain stem so lower-order functions are offloaded to our computers.



    For example, our brain stem will signal that it's horny, and so the computer rounds up some porn and feeds it into the brain stem. Or maybe the brain stem says, "I'm hungry!" and so our Powermac rustles up a recipe for a new Thai dish. Better yet, our brain stem says, "I'm sick of that latte-sipping, homo-lovin', Volvo driving snob of a cerebral cortex! I don't need it to live, and I'm going to shut it down!" Instantly our Powermacs connect to a news server to feed the brain stem an gushing stream of gossip about the latest trial of a celebrity child molester/abortion monger/euthanasia doctor/CEO philanderer/jock-on-drugs, and our front brains go offline for days.



    It's all possible once we break free of our suffocating interface paradigm.



    On a more realistic note, how about some sunglasses that sense where we're looking on the display? Then we just look at a widget, squeeze our anal sphincters to actuate a "button" implant, and it's like a mouse click!



    Or maybe mice are still around because people like them, they're simple, and they work.
  • Reply 17 of 36
    jousterjouster Posts: 460member
    Oh pshaw...



    Pizzas aren't round because of Domino's public-minded desire to make each slice easy to hold. They're round because they start as balls of dough which become thin discs when spun in the air by a skilled..uh...pizza maker.
  • Reply 18 of 36
    mike peelmike peel Posts: 185member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Junkyard Dawg

    For example, our brain stem will signal that it's horny, and so the computer rounds up some porn and feeds it into the brain stem. [/B]



    Considering how often the average man thinks that, you and your computer would get into an infinite loop... Enter Blue Screens in your mind?
  • Reply 19 of 36
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by jouster

    Oh pshaw...



    Pizzas aren't round because of Domino's public-minded desire to make each slice easy to hold. They're round because they start as balls of dough which become thin discs when spun in the air by a skilled..uh...pizza maker.




    Heh.



    I might not have articulated why they started round (although you could argue that they're made that way because it's easy to get a round shape that way—cooks have many ways to make squares and rectangles of dough). I did, however, articulate why they've largely remained round: It works. Square pizzas are fine and dandy until you get the inner pieces.



    Moving to Future Dinner. Er, wait...
  • Reply 20 of 36
    gongon Posts: 2,437member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by monkeyastronaut

    Other things I question:



    Why do we use keys to turn on our cars?

    *Use your fingerprint, your voice, a credit-card you can place in your wallet, a USB device, a password, a combination of these, etc.




    Anybody seen The Transporter...?
    Quote:

    Why are most pizzas circular when boxes are squared?

    *We need more square pizzas, use all the space inside the box!




    Make your own pizzas, don't buy them in a box. Problem solved!



    I wish I could make a decent pizza, but they never come out even slightly the same as restaurant pizzas. I don't believe it's just the oven that is at fault..
    Quote:

    Why are soft-drinks sold on 355 ml (12 oz) and 600 ml (20 oz) cans and bottles?

    *Sometimes I need smaller amounts of soda like 237 ml (8 oz), 192 ml (6.5 oz), 150 ml (5 oz), etc. But I guess those are european sizes, hard to find in America.




    Here in Finland, which was part of Europe the last time I checked, everything comes in 0.33l cans or 0.5l plastic bottles, except sucky "energy drinks" which come in 250ml cans. 0.33l can is my favorite soft drink container! I think 250ml is just too small.
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