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Canonical Designer Demos Ubuntu Context-Aware UI 237

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."
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Canonical Designer Demos Ubuntu Context-Aware UI

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

    by digitalsushi ( 137809 ) <> on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @09:20AM (#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 @09:21AM (#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.

  • Re:Great (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @09:44AM (#33648902)

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

    And after you're done, it closes all 40 tabs for you, so you don't have to whale in disgust with yourself after the deed is done.

  • by Yer Mom ( 78107 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @09:53AM (#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...

  • Teal deer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @10:09AM (#33649250) Homepage Journal

    Why does the summary not link the actual blog post at [] 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 []. Third, a well-known online encyclopedia is likely to care more about a press release if the mainstream news media have reported on it.

  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @10:55AM (#33650124)

    I'm at the point in my life where I don't WANT my desktop to be "innovative". "Innovative" is an excuse for people to shake up stuff that works perfectly well for the sake of doing so, and claim that they are "innovative". Commercial companies that constantly need to sell new versions to a gullable consumer have that need. They need to convince users to keep dropping cash on "The best Windows EVER!!!!". Open source has no need for the sales tactics. Cars have 4 wheels and a cabin because that WORKS, and it has worked well for 100 years. Desktop UI's have reached a similar level. The paradigm is mature. Don't mess with it.

    What I want to see instead of "innovation" is simple polish. Get those drivers working better. Smooth out the fonts and default graphics. Improve codec support. Make syncing between portable media players and the management utilities better. Improve flash support. Add new file formats to programs. Add additional filters to video editors.

    The way we do things has evolved to a stable point. At this point I want improvements to that, not a new method entirely.

  • Re:Hmm (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:28AM (#33650798)

    It is another guess and pray system - and it is an irritation at the moment, but its the future.

    The question I want to know is :- Have canonical patented the concepts they are demonstrating so when Microsoft, Apple, Sony etc develop the technology for their proprietary hardware/software they are forced to either release their work as open source, or pay an absolute shed load of money effectively funding independent open source development!

  • Re:Hmm (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @02:37PM (#33653678)

    That's the first non-annoying use case I've heard for something like this. If it could work well enough it would be very cool, particularly if it would lock the system if I walked away instead of inactivity.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson