Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
GUI Ubuntu Linux

Canonical Designer Demos Ubuntu Context-Aware UI 237

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-sense-something-interesting dept.
Blacklaw writes "Canonical's Christian Giordano has posted details of what he believes could be the future of user interface design in Ubuntu — a system that detects physical context. Designed to be paired with a webcam or other sensor system, the concept is that the computer is able to detect where a user is in proximity to the display along with an idea of roughly what he or she might be doing. Using this information, the operating system — in this case, Ubuntu Linux — can automatically make changes to the screen layout. For example, when the system detects that the user has leaned back in his or her chair, the system automatically makes the currently playing video full-screen. Lean forward again, and the video returns to its previous windowed mode."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Canonical Designer Demos Ubuntu Context-Aware UI

Comments Filter:
  • Porn (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:02AM (#33648324)
    So if the computer sees me with a box of tissues and some lube it will start up youporn?
    • Re:Porn (Score:5, Funny)

      by ray-auch (454705) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:19AM (#33648564)

      More importantly, will it minimise the porn window when the wife enters the room behind you ?

      • by erroneus (253617)

        Actually, while this is certainly a funny sort of thing, I can see where it would be useful from a privacy standpoint. A simple USB laser sensor could be a trigger for someone approaching from behind and could be fairly inexpensive, self-contained and more importantly, not a processor hog on your main system. Various means of detecting presence and absence can be useful for privacy and security purposes. I know one or two people in HR who could make use of such technology where the contents of their scre

        • Such a gadget would be useful so that it pops-up my MS Word document automatically when someone walks up behind me.

          Then once said person is gone, I can go back to surfing the web,

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by somersault (912633)

        Or if your head suddenly twitches like mine always does when a manager walks in and I realise I'm doing sod all work.

      • Re:Porn (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:33AM (#33648736)

        >More importantly, will it minimise the porn window when the wife enters the room behind you ?

        Wife/SO: "That's it, I'm leaving. Masturbating to porn I could handle, but to Slashdot?!?"

        • by vlueboy (1799360)

          Wife/SO: "That's it, I'm leaving. Masturbating to porn I could handle, but to Slashdot?!?"

          Rule34: For anything you can think of, there is pr0n of it somewhere waiting to be found.

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        You need a better wife. She should be maximizing that video and demonstrate the right way to perform the technique.

  • by mikael_j (106439) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:03AM (#33648334)

    Why does the summary not link the actual blog post at canonical.com [canonical.com] instead of some ad-encumbered summary?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by OzPeter (195038)

      Why does the summary not link the actual blog post at canonical.com instead of some ad-encumbered summary?

      Because then the submitter wouldn't get his cut?

    • Revenue sharing.
    • Teal deer (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tepples (727027)

      Why does the summary not link the actual blog post at canonical.com [canonical.com] instead of some ad-encumbered summary?

      Summaries have three purposes. First, a good executive summary adds context that may not have been in the article. Second, a good executive summary gets the point across so that readers don't get attacked by a tl;dr [photobucket.com]. Third, a well-known online encyclopedia is likely to care more about a press release if the mainstream news media have reported on it.

    • by Chryana (708485)

      Yeah, but the blog post does not spin his work as "the future of interface design", so it's not nearly as exciting.

  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El Lobo (994537) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:04AM (#33648346)
    Another guess and pray system. Please don't. or at least make it optional (not that I use ubuntu, but)... Guess and pray system are often more of an irritation that usable.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:10AM (#33648430)

      Exactly what I was thinking. This seems like it would be just as bad as clippy. Computers aren't good at just "figuring out what you meant". That's why language syntax has always been so strict. They're good at doing EXACTLY what you say when you're specific and say it right. If I want my video full screen I'll Alt+Enter before I lean back in the chair . . .

      • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

        by quickOnTheUptake (1450889) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @09:34AM (#33649706)
        My thoughts exactly: Great, another resource-hogging annoyance." What if I lean forward because I'm trying to see something small in the corner?
        Rule no. 1 of UI design: When in doubt make the interface stupid but predictable. Smart systems that guess wrong even 2% of the time are just frustrations.
    • I think this is a great innovation. Here are other context-sensitive things it could do:
      • Mac fanboy in room: change UI to look like Mac OS X
      • Police in room: change UI to look like Windows, so they don't think you're an evil hacker
      • Frustration visible: avoid doing annoying things like popping the update manager up every day
      • Female in the room: hide any porn files that are on the desktop
      • Detects person who doesn't want computer second-guessing his intentions: disable context-aware UI permanently
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by Compaqt (1758360) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @09:13AM (#33649314) Homepage

      First they messed up sound with PulseAudio, but I did not say anything because I killall'd it in cron.

      Then they came for my window control menus, but I did not say anything because I gconf'd it.

      Now they have come for my gnome-terminal replacing it with HAL, and there's no one left to speak for me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Ukab the Great (87152)

        And then you win.

      • by tomhudson (43916)

        "Now they have come for my gnome-terminal replacing it with HAL, and there's no one left to speak for me."

        Using context-aware UI, Soviet Ubuntu computer speaks for YOU!

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xlotlu (1395639) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @10:10AM (#33650472)

      I wanted something like this for quite a while, except my primary use cases are for preventing inactivity-related actions: 1) don't lock the screen if I'm still at the computer, regardless of the inactivity timeout; and 2) don't dim the screen if I'm looking at it. I'm probably reading and I like the brightness level just the way it is.

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:05AM (#33648358)
    ... that yells "Pay attention!" every time it detects my eyes focusing on my television rather than its monitor!
  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:05AM (#33648364)

    So now the computer starts looking at me, instead of just me looking at the computer?

    Interesting. But sounds a bit scary too.

    • by captainpanic (1173915) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:17AM (#33648534)

      As long as the options aren't hidden in obscure menus, or disabled because the users are considered idiots, then I think I like it.

      In short: I like it if I can tweak it (and if I can disable it if necessary).

      -- The options menu of my webcam extends to my drawer where I keep my duct tape to block the lens. Be warned, evil empire, I am armed with duct tape!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by beh (4759) *

      Well - at least the hostname abyss looks appropriate now:

      When you look into the abyss, the abyss will also look at you...

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      What you meant was, In Soviet Russia, computer looks at you!
    • If employers can get the operating system to monitor IT users, it will be a great boon. Not enough lines of code, too much sitting back in the chairs, not enough eye contact with the screen, not enough keystrokes, use of non-sanctioned websites, then modify the user's environment say to provide random electric shocks of sufficient voltage to "encourage" productivity, perform personality scans, initiate increased video surveillance, monitor "independent" contractors, initiate urine tests, etc..

      Clearly, thi

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:05AM (#33648366)
    So if I dangle my Special Purpose in front of my webcam, will it boot me into Damn Small Linux?
  • Consitancy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by anss123 (985305) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:07AM (#33648396)
    A good UI need to be consistent and predictable. When software tries to second guess what I want, glares at MS Word, it tends to piss me off instead.

    And no, I don't want a video to full screen when I lean back or audio to mute when I switch app or whatever they think of next.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by natehoy (1608657)

      glares at MS Word

      Now, thanks to this new technology, Clippy can appear and say "It looks like I'm pissing you off! What can I do to help?"

      Then your reaction might cause Clippy to dial 9-1-1 (or the local equivalent for non-US versions) for you so an ambulance can be on the way already to deal with the aneurysm you are about to have in 3... 2...

      But when you pass out and your nose lands on the "F" key, he'll turn off autorepeat for you so if you survive the experience your document will be waiting for you when you get back f

    • Re:Consitancy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RNLockwood (224353) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:17AM (#33648530) Homepage

      Yeah, I can see it now. My eyes require larger print, pictures, etc. on the display I have. I can't quite make something out and lean forward: it gets smaller. To get it bigger I must lean back. And so on and so on. I think the Greeks had a story about something like this.

      • by natehoy (1608657) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:24AM (#33648632) Journal

        They'll announce it a few years from now, codename "Terrifying Tantalus"

      • I think the Greeks had a story about something like this.

        wiki:Tantalus [wikipedia.org]

        Tantalus's punishment for his act, now a proverbial term for temptation without satisfaction (the source of the English word "tantalise" - US "tantalize"),[13]) was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any. Over his head towers a threatening s

      • by SamSim (630795)

        That's almost as good as those camera phones which automatically rotate the photograph to always be the wrong way up when you try to look at it.

        (The device can detect which way up you're holding it, so it tries to put the photo the right way up for you to look at it... but it has no record of which way up it was when the photo was taken, and the photo was e.g. taken portrait instead of landscape.)

        • Or my car stereo which thinks that if my headlights are on it must be dark and then "helps out" by reducing the brightness of the controls to the point I can't make them out when I have my headlights on in the daytime.

      • Yes, it's certainly a tantalising prospect.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      All software is consistent. Whether you can predict it is more a function of your own intelligence and understanding.

      Not that I'm disparaging you, though. I agree that software should be predictable by the user, and that's why I only support this feature if it will include lots of configuration, so the software can also understand the user's desires appropriately. After spending an hour or two configuring Compiz to know that (for example) my mouse follows my attention, I increased my productivity. I expect

      • by anss123 (985305)

        After all, how long does it take for a human to be able to predict another human's actions, with any reasonable accuracy?

        You'd be surprised.

      • by tomhudson (43916)

        After all, how long does it take for a human to be able to predict another human's actions, with any reasonable accuracy?

        I'll give you a hint. "Does this dress make me look fat?"

        The only safe prediction is that you WILL give a wrong answer. Which wrong answer, I can't predict.

  • ...I never leave a webcam hooked up to my computer unless I'm about to use it.

    • You need to either store the webcam in another room or wrap it in aluminum foil, otherwise the government will use USB RAYS to connect the cam wirelessly!

      • by iceaxe (18903)

        My webcam is safely stored in its box, on a store shelf, where I have not yet purchased it. It will stay there until I need it.

    • My laptop has a LED connected to the webcam circuits, so it lights up when any software tries to use it, and it's impossible to disable without physically opening the screen and cutting the wires.

      My friend keeps his non-LED webcam covered with tape :)

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      I never leave a webcam hooked up to my computer unless I'm about to use it.

      I thought if you were paranoid you were supposed to leave it on so that it could record burglars coming in, and then automatically post the video to your local police station?

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        That's the advantage of having giant 1960s-style vertical bolt locks on your steel apartment door...they tend to make a bit of a noise when kicked in :-)

  • 80's song? (Score:2, Funny)

    by natehoy (1608657)

    I always feel like... Ubuntu's watching me!

    Someone needs to contact Google, they'll provide a shitload of funding for something like this, as long as they can get some of the images to run through some sort of facial expression analysis.

    Not only will they know the sites you are visiting, but they'll get an idea of how interested you are in each individual product you see, and whether you glance at their ads.

  • oh oh... (Score:4, Funny)

    by polle404 (727386) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:12AM (#33648458)
    shutdown -h now

    "...I'm afraid i can't let you do that, Dave..."

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      shutdown -h now

      "...I'm afraid i can't let you do that, Dave..."

      Darn. It read your lips while you were talking about wiping it and installing Debian...

  • Great (Score:4, Funny)

    by iONiUM (530420) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:15AM (#33648518) Homepage Journal

    Now I can just start jerking off and it'll show me porn, instead of me having to find the porn first.

    Thanks, auto-detect camera.

  • that's pretty neat! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by digitalsushi (137809) <slashdot@digitalsushi.com> on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:20AM (#33648580) Journal

    Lots of naysayers already.. this will suck as much as the first round of "tablet" laptops, like the thinkpad x60, et cetera. But you have to let the pioneers forge ahead. Let them do that, they will enjoy being at the forefront of development without you.

    There's all sorts of sensors. And with something like a SerIO, you can just plug analog sensors into your perl/python/ruby/php/bash scripts. For instance, I believe I could take a capacitance sensor, hide it under the wood in my desk, run that into the SerIO (or I mean, if I was an engineer I could do it myself, but I am not, so the SerIO is my crutch), and then I could have my computer know when my hands are laying on the desk.

    I could put a thermal sensor in my chair, so my butt triggers it. I could put motion sensors in the walls. I could put humidity sensors in my beer-hat, and it could tell me when to stop drinking so much booze.

    There's so many neat ideas out there that haven't really been done yet. Well, I'm sure they've been done by shy introverts, brilliant kids that don't feel like sharing with the dummies. Heck I bet a ton are reading this very story and going "PSSSSSSSsh so?" Not as many as the armchair engineers going "PSshh stoopid idea", but they are still here too.

    This isn't about getting it right. This is about playing. Don't critique the child playing with blocks.

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:21AM (#33648592)

    ... like playing sounds from Youtube/Flash on Firefox and Rythmbox at the same time, without having to wait 5 Minutes after FF closes, for PulseAudio to reinitialize or whatever, to be able to hear Rythmbox or VLC sound.

    It's this kind of crap that's getting us no where and still has Apple being a viable alternative for productive workers despite their cheapest 13" Laptop currently being twice as expensive than a 17" Dell Vostro running Ubuntu. And despite Apple moving into MS-Borg territory very fast with content distribution lock-in and all that.

    I thought I was going to switch to Linux entirely this year, now that I don't play Windows Games anymore and currently don't develop Flash for a living and the newest Mac Mini suddenly costs upwards of 800 Euros. But it's crap like this that still has me fiddling with fstab IN FUCKING 2010(!!) when I want to mount my daughters Cellphones MicroSD Card and then still being unable to mount the damn thing rw, as any other sane OS would do.

    John-Jesus H.B Christ, could we please try to get shit done, like, for instance, building a vialbe AD clone or something before tracking faces with some obscure library that only 10 people know how to compile and has absolutely no practical application what-so-ever? No matter how much money Shuttleworth has, he doesn't have enough to burn it on something like this I'd suppose. No?

    It's not that I wouldn't like to help, but, honestly, there is so much work to be done, I don't know where to start and sh*t like the stuff mentioned in TFA isn't very encouraging to have me join in.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > ... like playing sounds from Youtube/Flash on Firefox and Rythmbox
      > at the same time, without having to wait 5 Minutes after FF closes,
      > for PulseAudio to reinitialize or whatever, to be able to hear Rythmbox
      > or VLC sound.

      Done. Next...

      It sounds ugly but you can do it.

      You can also play 4 different movies with 4 different copies of VLC if you really want.

      • Works fine on my system in 10.04 /anecdote
        My issue is them futzing with automounting my internal hard drives. In several previous versions it worked perfectly. It doesn't anymore. Screwing around with fstab for basic functions isn't really acceptable.

        • by Zebedeu (739988)

          This can easily be done following this guide. The automatic method using pysdm worked perfectly for me: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/AutomaticallyMountPartitions [ubuntu.com]

          Having said that, I agree that this process should be made much easier (and in the default instalation, like under a properties menu for that partition). As everything in Ubuntu, I'm sure that will get taken care of, eventually.

    • The problem is that those bugs are in the "WORKSFORME" category, and they're hard to reproduce in the devs' machines. But Windows [tomshardware.com] and the MacOSX [apple.com] have similar problems, they just have more resources to test hundreds of configurations, something that Ubuntu will never have.

    • by sootman (158191)

      But it's crap like this that still has me fiddling with fstab IN FUCKING 2010(!!)... John-Jesus H.B Christ, could we please try to get shit done

      [My english is better than most other people's german, so please point out mistakes politely. Thank you.]

      Your English is better than most Slashdotters' and your French is fanfuckingtastic. :-)

      (It's an expression in English to say "Pardon my French" after swearing.)

  • by BigBadBus (653823) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:24AM (#33648634) Homepage
    "For example, when the system detects that the user has leaned back in his or her chair, the system automatically makes the currently playing video full-screen. Lean forward again, and the video returns to its previous windowed mode." Does it also provide a barf bag in this sea-sickness inducing mode?
  • I guess we all have aspects we would like about it and aspects we fear. We are comfortable in our old paradigms and we don't want computers to guess what we want or need.

    But that said, using a webcam to determine certain things would be convenient. For example, I would like more work done on using a webcam for authentication and to determine if it is okay to go into screensaver/screen lock mode. THAT would be pretty nice.

    As for changing my UI? Most of us tweak our UIs to match the way we use the machine

    • If you have a PC and a phone with bluetooth, consider using Blueproximity.

      From their site:

      This software helps you add a little more security to your desktop. It does so by detecting one of your bluetooth devices, most likely your mobile phone, and keeping track of its distance. If you move away from your computer and the distance is above a certain level (no measurement in meters is possible) for a given time, it automatically locks your desktop (or starts any other shell command you want).

      Once away your co

  • Have the camera pointing outside your cubicle, pick up when the boss is coming, automatically switch to Workspace 4 which has a spreadsheet open on screen and a long list of business apps along the panel.

    Hot secretary? Browser with "Ask Mavis" article half-posted voicing your concerns about your "copious" manhood. Suspicious 4-second lag between hitting minimise and it actually disappearing.
  • No more rocking chair in front of the PC for me...
  • I would hate it that the screen changes just because I sit differently. Do NOT change the layout. There is a reason why the layout is as I have it. And my reasons are mine alone. I am sure you can NOT program them in a general calculation, even though they are very simple:
    3 screens with 6 workspaces each. No Xinerama. Each screen as fixed programs on launching XFCE.

    I am not sure if this will be equally or even more annoying as Copiz and other 3D stuff.
    Nice to see once for about 10 seconds and after that I w

  • by Yer Mom (78107) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:53AM (#33649046) Homepage

    I'd be happy if, on a multi-display setup, it could tell which screen I'm looking at and direct focus accordingly.

    I'm fed up with pressing Cmd-W to close the top window, only to find out that the focus was on the top window on the other screen.

    Would still need to tell the difference between "glancing at screen 2 to check something" and "actively focusing on screen 2", of course...

  • by Tom (822)

    Hi Bob, Clippy, all your friends, welcome back. I see they've finally ported you over to Linux.

    So if I'm of the more bouncy kind, my video player will constantly go full-window-full-window-full-window-etc. until I explicitly tell it to stop, sit in the corner and be a bad dog?

    Yeah, that's exactly what I want in a computer. Look, no matter how smart you think you are, there is no way you can find out my intent without telepathy. All you are creating is yet another interface that people have to learn and deal

  • Designed to be paired with a webcam or other sensor system, the concept is that the computer is able to detect where a user is in proximity to the display along with an idea of roughly what he or she might be doing

    FEATURE REQUEST: Retreating keyboard and mouse
    PROBLEM: Users who pick their nose and then try to use your keyboard or mouse
    LEVEL: Urgent
    REPEATABILITY: Way too often, especially around flu season!
    PROPOSED SOLUTION(S): When the OS detects a luser digging for "nose gold", both the keyboard

  • I need the opposite in fact. If I'm leaning in towards the screen, it's because I CAN'T see the video/text well enough. Making it smaller is defeating the purpose. I lean back when I can see it fine. Blowing it up is pointless. If I lean in, make it bigger. If I lean back, leave it be.

  • Webcams are more common but a proximity sensor would be better. It can tell more easily if somebody really is there... without complicated image processing.
    And its more private since it doesn't record your image.. you can be in your underwear.

    As for the all the negative comments... its great that people are trying new things in UIs. I bet mouse got a lot of negative comments too when it came out back in the day.

  • I do not want a spying web cam.
    I do not want it, Sam I Am.

    I do not want it on my box.
    I do not want it tuned to Fox.

    I do not want it on the air.
    I do not want it anywhere!

A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough For Love"

Working...