User Experience Of The Future


Over decades we’ve used to adapt our habits, behavior and mindset to technology. We’ve improved our productivity by using tools and devices designed especially for the tasks we have to deal with regularly. But we’ve also constrained our abilities to the features of the very tools and devices we’ve become dependant on.

We’ve got used to a number of things. To traditional mouse-keyboard user interaction, to 2D windows-based user interface and to a rather unspectacular user’s workflow which enables one user interact with only one application at a time. For instance, while you’re browsing in your web browser you can’t scale your text and resize your window simultaneously — unless you are a keyboard-shortcut-master.

Good news: it can be different. Below we present some of the outstanding recent developments in the field of user experience design. Most techniques may seem very futuristic, but they are reality. And in fact, they are extremely impressive. Keep in mind: they can become ubiquitous over the next years.

Future For Gamers: Cheoptics360™

Absolutely incredible. Cheoptics3601 is a Vizoo’s product which can change our understanding of 3D for always. This is a documentation of the 5×5 meter Cheoptics360 in the Vizoo’s showroom. No special effects or compositing has been used editing this movie. This is the real thing. Official web-site.2




reactable5 is a collaborative electronic music instrument with a tabletop tangible multi-touch interface. Several simultaneous performers share complete control over the instrument by moving and rotating physical objects on a luminous round table surface.

By moving and relating these objects, representing components of a classic modular synthesizer, users can create complex and dynamic sonic topologies, with generators, filters and modulators, in a kind of tangible modular synthesizer or graspable flow-controlled programming language. Demos6.



Multi-Touch Technology8
Multi-Touch-based devices accept input from multiple fingers and multiple users simultaneously, allowing for complex gestures, including grabbing, stretching, swiveling and sliding virtual objects across the table. While touch sensing is commonplace for single points of contact, multi-touch sensing enables a user to interact with a system with more than one finger at a time, as in chording and bi-manual operations. Demos 19, Demos 210.



Such sensing devices are inherently also able to accommodate multiple users simultaneously, which is especially useful for interactive walls and tabletops. Multi-Touch is already widely used. Apple’s iPhone has Multi-Touch scrolling and picture manipulation.



Microsoft Surface

Multi-Touch is also the core of Microsoft Surface15, an interactive tabletop which allows a user, or multiple users, to manipulate digital content by the use of natural motions, hand gestures, or physical objects by putting them on the surface. Microsoft Surface Reviewed16.




Using photos of oft-snapped subjects (like Notre Dame) scraped from around the Web, Photosynth creates breathtaking multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features that outstrip all expectation. Its architect, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, shows it off in this standing-ovation demo20.


The technology was recently acquired by Microsoft and is now a part of Microsoft Live Labs. Microsoft Photosynth web-site22. Photosynth Technology is a new way to view photos on a computer. The software takes a large collection of photos of a place or an object, analyzes them for similarities, and then displays the photos in a reconstructed three-dimensional space, showing you how each one relates to the next.



Bumptop24 is a fresh user interface that takes the usual desktop metaphor to a glorious, 3D extreme. In this physics-driven universe, important files finally get the weight they deserve via an oddly satisfying resizing feature, and the drudgery of file organization becomes a freewheeling playground full of crumpled documents and clipping-covered “walls.” TED-presentation of Bumptop25.


Further References

  • 3D Operating System27
    Next Generation Operating System from Sun Micro Systems
  • XTR3D28 is real-time software that analyzes 3D human motions using only one simple web cam, without any additional accessories. It will allow users to play games and interact in virtual worlds using natural human motions instead of keyboards, mouses and joysticks. Released Sep 27, 2007.


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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.


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  1. 1

    Wow! Some awesome stuff in here – thanks!

  2. 2

    Very futuristic post, I think that some of this aren’t good idea.

  3. 3

    lorenzo piccinini

    November 26, 2007 5:51 pm

    Impressive! you know how to make us happy even on monday morning, this is a wonderfull post!


  4. 4

    Nice article. Perceptive Pixel somehow reminds me of the UI used in the movie ‘Minority Report’.

  5. 5

    Yet again another great post. Wonder when these solutions will be widely used in the average household…

  6. 6

    360 == holograms, rl startrek here we come ;)

  7. 7

    Richard Francis Kay

    November 26, 2007 7:12 pm

    I want these!

  8. 8

    Great looking but expensive as well. Future it might be cheaper of course, it looks cool but I don’t think its functions are as worth the price tag. Nice list though.

  9. 9

    Of these, I’m most interested in the Photosynth application and yet, now that Microsoft is involved, I cannot view the website with a Mac OS computer…typical!

  10. 10

    The success of the Wii controller showed us that the world is hungry for a richer interactive experience and these examples are right up that alley. The Bumptop desktop is especially intruging to me. I hope Microsoft and Apple are paying attention.

  11. 11

    Cheoptics360 and Multi-touch seem very promising! Can’t wait to see them being implemented in real life.

  12. 12

    Juan Manuel Lemus

    November 26, 2007 9:54 pm

    The Microsoft Surface is a great revolutionary device. I think that the future is in the mobile devices and touch interface…. . Very good article…!

  13. 13

    if bumptop combines with multi-touch technology on perceptive pixel, a new era of user interfaces will appear. just imagine the possibilities

  14. 14

    Coming back from the holiday, I could use about 10 more of these posts.


  15. 15

    Installed in downtown Helsinki, CityWall is a multi-touch display featuring digital media arranged into themes and events. Citizens can shuffle the content as if the images are real, creating a customisable digital experience and promoting meaningful digital media interaction.

  16. 16

    “now you can view maps…on a big ass table”

  17. 17

    THE and the zooming interface belong on this list.

  18. 18

    Real time 3d is my all time dream to visualize and “Cheoptics360™ ” is really one such.

  19. 19

    Awesome! wonder when these technologies will be easily available to common man

  20. 20

    Microsoft is up to some pretty amazing stuff, but they’re more inclined to use it for applications rather then gaming.

  21. 21

    yet another awesome post by SmashingMagazine

  22. 22

    This is by far one of the better posts I have read on the net lately. It’s a realistic look at the technologies of tomorrow. Great post.

    — Karim Baz

  23. 23

    Future for information organizers – 3D Topicscape

  24. 24

    I recently presented my company alongside Perceptive Pixel’s head Jeff Han. Amazing stuff and surreal for me to present after his presentation!

    I can just see all the uses for it! In your kitchen – a E-bulletin board that populates your email, view your calendar, info from your fridge telling you need milk, notes from your doctor upon your use of the digital toilet, audio messages that your alarm clock didn’t wake you to… there is so much innovation to be had here!

  25. 25


    November 27, 2007 2:06 pm

    Thank you for an excellent post. We’re studying user interfaces in our university and these projects are wonderful examples of what can be achieved.

  26. 26

    what about elinks, gnu screen, and the bash prompt? no i am not kidding. it is entirely possible to see another future in which the public burns out on gadgetry and would rather settle for the most natural interface to people – words.

  27. 27

    i know someone who has bumptop, they said it wasnt that expensive

  28. 28

    Very informative. Atleast you make sure that we don’t get left behind.

  29. 29

    Multitouch is cool and very handay, but I don’t get the BumpTop. It looks just like more clutter to me.

  30. 30

    So it seems like somone just browsed the TED sight and made a post.

  31. 31

    I was under the impression that Microsoft’s Surface was not, in fact, multi-touch, but instead relied on IR cameras positioned above the table which tracked the hand gestures. May be splitting hairs, but I think the future is with capacitive surfaces (a la iPhone) and not these large, camera-based set-ups.

  32. 32

    The cheoptics360 seems to be using the same trick as those videocd based arcade games back in the early 90’s- use a concave mirror to make an image on a screen appear to be free-standing in space. Presumably they’ve innovated a bit by allowing the use of a projector, but i’s guess the theory is the same. It is *NOT* true volumetric- the image is the same from all angles – read the FAQ!

    also, IMHO, bumptop is a good example of a good solution to the wrong problem…

  33. 33

    Awesome post – also a software used on school interactive whiteboards is Edusim. A video demo is here:

    there are a bunch more demo videos on the Edusim web site

  34. 34

    I don’t see the use of it, besides being eye candy; especially not in a dev environment. Perhaps to help newbies around ?
    Seriously, this seems very limiting, having to drag stuff ‘physically’ around.

  35. 35

    One more example, of mixed reality at CeBit:

  36. 36

    Haha. That BumpTop thing… It lacks a LOT of functionality, and then it’ll just get too cluttered to be in 3D. I mean… How about icon labels, for one thing…? I’d need to know which icon is which there, when I for example have many icons of the same file type.

  37. 37

    Open Croquet is a 3D desktop that has been in the works a long time. It’s kind of like if you had your own personal Second Life world for a desktop and when you wanted to connect to someone else or something else through the network they popped up as an item or you stepped through it. It kind of reminds me of reboot when they used to step into the game blocks and transform into someone else.

    I think the problem is it’s a development kit. It would be nice to see a real, day-to-day useful product result from it that you could simply go download. Even if it were something like a video game loader where you just stepped into the game you wanted to play or a form of 3D chat that someone like Google could add to their chat service.

  38. 38

    Nice collection of new tech, however the one oversight is including that dated 3D Operating System link. You should really include the below, which is available for most Linux operating systems right now (in fact you’d probably find it on most Ubuntu desktops nowadays):

  39. 39

    You really have a good point. I agree…
    I like how they used that in some movies lately. Showing multiple command lines open at the same time (Die hard 4)

  40. 40

    Simpler is often better when presenting these new fangled ways of working. Zooming UI’s seem easy for users to pick up. I present CardMeeting as one example: simple and easy, doesn’t try to do too much nor over-emphasize the technology.

    Dave Woldrich

  41. 41

    its a lil bit overhyped though, this technology has been around for 20 or so years. At work we easily put together a large multitouch screen using scrap parts, and a measly $100.

    all it is, is a image projector and a snippet of code that responds to touch points.. that are supplied from a cheap infrared camera looking at the screen. (using 10 cent IR leds on the screen (glass/plexiglass) cause the IR light to break when a point is touched)

    anyone can do this, once you got the touch points using above method… your projector can project any interactive image you want.

  42. 42

    I got to see the original photosynt, it had a Java viewer you could use to check it on your computer, now in order to see the “microsoft” version you need top notch graphic cards and software go figure.

  43. 43

    Great presentations! I’m ready for Perceptive Pixel’s large multi-touch screen now.

  44. 44

    Geez why did we stop calling it “user interface” and switch to “user experience”, I thought that was just a buzzword! Is “interface” politically incorrect or something in some way I am unaware of??

    Computer interfaces should not BE experiences! Experiences are things you remember! You shouldn’t even notice the computer’s interface. :P Take that.

  45. 45

    You are correct Rob, cheoptics360 is not a 3d display at all. It is in fact just an upside down pyramid of fine mesh, with each triangular face illuminated from a projector below.

    This is an exploitation of the theatrical scrim effect and not even subtle. When they eliminate the massive tension-members at the corners of the pyramid, then at least it will be more sleek. Nice for tradeshows, but it’s no smoke- or water-wall.

  46. 46

    The Cheopics360 is absolutely amazing. I’ve been trying (just for fun) to think of ways to make displays like this for a while. I can’t wait to see if their methods match up with any of my ideas.

    I’ve been excited about this article all day.

  47. 47

    Microsoft Photosynth, will be the next big thing. But I hope they know how to make it light on the processor and memory.
    As per my thinking, any heavy software and processors are doomed in todays world, we all need lightweight, simplistic as well as to the point applications.

  48. 48

    Bjork used one of those reactable things in her gig at Glastonbury this year. It was pretty amazing to watch!

  49. 49

    Very nice article, Love this mag more and more every day!

  50. 50

    but how long this future will be comming?

  51. 51

    nice like minority report

  52. 52

    Interesting article companies are pumping lot of money and effort.

  53. 53

    A nice collection of somew of the technologies that hold the potential to improve future user experiences … I am exploring and experimenting with a number of them. Remember though, technology without meaningful content is like sex without a partner.

  54. 54

    Absolutely stunning! Cheoptics makes me soo freakin’ excited for the future of video gaming!! and PhotoSynth is marvelous.

  55. 55

    WoW! :O

  56. 56

    Some of this technology is old now and has progressed. 60% of these were around 2 years ago.

    Good post though.,

  57. 57

    Sarunas Mikelevicius

    May 27, 2008 4:59 am

    Wish to try some of them :)

  58. 58

    Wow! Some awesome stuff in here – thanks!

  59. 59

    bumptop is really cool.

  60. 60

    Again .. another rocking post.. as always I feel myself getting updated each and every moment through SM :-D.. Kudos !!!

  61. 61

    Alfred Devanesan Samuel

    January 15, 2009 8:58 pm

    Great post team. carry on your good work. super … super … inspirational … stunning

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