Friday, January 16, 2009

NUI is appropriate for Data Heavy Applications

In a recent post at Point & Do, Jonathan discussed when gesture-based interfaces are inappropriate. One idea was that NUI and gesture interfaces won't work well when dealing with heavy data input, particularly input that requires a keyboard.

While I agree that data input requiring keyboard isn't going away, we should distinguish between the input and the analysis and processing of data. Just because an application is data heavy doesn't mean it can't use NUI. Only the data input portion may require traditional interfaces with keyboards and mice. Once the data is in the system, a NUI application can be much better suited for analysis than a GUI. Complex relationships can be visualized, and direct interaction with objects reduces the abstractions between the users and the data they are trying to understand.

As an example, consider this video of a integrated Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Surface application that I developed at Infostrat. This is a constituent services case management demo.

In this application, the data is entered through traditional methods (GUI) to the CRM database via a web browser, Outlook client, or third-party add-on. Surface reads the database and displays the CRM constituent cases alongside other data sources relevant to the constituent's comment subject area (Crime, Housing, Energy Prices, etc.) The Surface application can be used for data analysis as well as presentation of findings. The paper that was placed on Surface was printed at a regular PC from within a CRM constituent case and contains a byte tag that the Surface can recognize. When the paper is placed on the Surface, the map and information panel jumps to the associated entity from CRM. Additional note taking and data entry is possible on Surface, but not as much as in the regular CRM clients.

This type of combining traditional data entry and NUI data analysis could be implemented effectively in other situations as well. What traditional data applications do you think could be augmented by a NUI interface?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Josh,

    Sorry if I was inspecific.

    I figured that readers would assume that I was referring to keyboards.

    Generally speaking, Multitouch is good at inputing values that exist on a relative gradient...I'd like a bunch of this and a smidge of that.

    Multitouch is not so good at handling large strings of binary input...101011101010...the things that keyboards are great at.


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