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Radically new HMI (Human Machine Interface) is giving rise to a crucial and exhilarating resurgence of systems for serious computation.
We have arrived at a pre-ecstatic moment in the history of computation. This instant is marked on one end by the twilight of snack food computing: mobile apps, gadgets, and perpetual electronic distraction; and on the other end by a resurgence of real nutrition: systems for professional computing, for doing the most sophisticated, interesting work that humans need to do. New designs and new technologies built on three key understandings will enable this renaissance. One, that the UI is fundamental; for human beings, the UI is the computer. Two, that scale matters; complex problems and workflows literally require a larger visual space with a larger interface to properly engage human cognition. Three, that systems for the 21st century must enable computationally-assistad human collaboration. Implemented correctly, all this looks like science fiction, and the reason for that is also part of the story.
John Underkoffler is co-founder and CEO of Oblong Industries, developer of the g-speak Spatial Operating Environment and the Mezzanine platform for immersive visual collaboration. Oblong’s technological and design trajectories build on fifteen years of foundational work at the MIT Media Lab, where John was responsible for innovations in real-time computer graphics systems, optical and electronic holography, large-scale visualization techniques, and the I/O Bulb and Luminous Room systems. He has been science advisor to films including ‘Minority Report’, ‘The Hulk’ (A. Lee), Aeon Flux, and ‘Iron Man’. John serves on the National Advisory Council of Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills, MI, and on the Board of Directors of the E14 Fund in Cambridge, MA and Sequoyah School in Pasadena, CA. He is the recipient of the 2015 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award and holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.