This article and my workload today really got me thinking about how cool it would be to have Natal as a user interface for normal computing. Today, I have spent a lot of time opening spreadsheets, reviews slide decks, moving different â€œviews of dataâ€ from one monitor to another (excluding PowerPoint which really needs to get in the multi-monitor game when editing different presentations, but I digress). The whole experience would have been much nicer if I had a Natal device reading my gestures.
- Need to move a spreadsheet to another monitor? Just â€œdragâ€ it with your hand from one monitor to another
- Need to move to the next slide in the presentations? Just â€œwipeâ€ the monitor
- Need to go from one email to the next in your Inbox, or maybe from one page to another in a Word doc? Just â€œturn the pageâ€
- Open a new application? Just point at the Start Orb and get a Natal optimized full screen Start Menu to easily navigate and start an app
- Just being able to point at my IE Link bar and have it launch a link would be pretty darn cool as I wander through my usual set of web sites I like to read
I am sure I could come up with lots of other ideas. It would be really cool. A lot of the time, having a â€œlean backâ€ back experience would be great. No need to keep hands on a keyboard or mouse, just lean back in your chair, gesture away, and have the computer seamlessly do what you want. It would be like the whole â€œMinority Reportâ€ experience minus the see-through glass displays (and Tom Cruise, so double bonus!). Talk about really opening up a true family room computing experience. If I could browse on my TV just by hooking my laptop up and then sitting on my coach and wave away â€“ sweetness. Wow â€“ a MediaCenter PC and not needing another remote â€“ just gesture and enjoy.
Many will say, well, Multi-Touch is here today with Windows 7, quit your complaining. Unfortunately, I am lukewarm on Multi-Touch for common usage. Yeah, for some scenarios it will truly be killer. But my screen gets dirty enough when I am not supposed to be touching it (not sure how it happens, but it does) so the idea of consistently putting my grimy fingers on my screen will certainly lead to some kind of OCD complex as I am constantly annoyed by a smudge laden screen. And even if I can get past that, it still requires me armâ€™s distance of the monitor. Not much better than working with the mouse or keyboard. There are a lot of tasks where being able to sit back and be more comfortable would be great.
Internet rumors and articles say Natal wonâ€™t be out for the XBOX for a long while. Even though some Microsoft execs have talked about Natal in the workplace scenarios, I am guessing (insert my mushroom-in-the-dark-I-donâ€™t-know-jack-so-donâ€™t-go-and-say-the-Microsoft-guy-said disclaimer here) that any chance of true Natal Office interface wonâ€™t arrive for sometime after that. It makes me sad, but it is nice to see some really cool stuff come out of Microsoft Research!