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Most people are familiar with Microsoft’s office (Word, Excel etc.) Now imagine this, the user sees in front of them what looks like a real looking office, with a filing cabinet, phone, calculator, real looking virtual secretary and a computer on their desk. Now imagine if the user could control a virtual hand which is manipulated by them, so allowing them to operate all of the virtual objects within the office, in much the same way they would within any real office. The virtual secretary could take care of all of the appointments and filing and all of the other types of things that secretaries do in real life (well almost). The secretary could be voice activated and trained to respond in anyway the user wanted.
This video shows the thinking of some the boffins within the software industry, this shows off some of the concepts outlined here:-
There are already expert systems available that could just sit behind the virtual characters or Avatars (3D Computer Generated representations of people or characters). All the expert programs would have to do, is to turn the expert programs text output into speech and then control how the avatars looked and moved. Real time speech recognition and translation is already here at home PC level, so using either the end user’s system (in the fat client mode) or a server at the host’s end, shouldn’t present a problem (Microsoft’s Dot.Net system, is being designed with natural language understanding built in (NLP). Also see, the A.I. controlled weatherman, utilising natural language generation (NLG).
The network was seen as being able to upload the image of an office to any connected user, and then that would have become a stand alone held in memory image. The network was to be given the ability to have a two-way conversation with the user and the ability to manipulate virtual characters in real time. This concept could have been taken further, so instead of a virtual secretary, why not have a virtual solicitor or a virtual accountant in the same way, all voice activated by the user. So instead of looking at a boring Word or Excel screen all day, the user could get all of the virtualised experts, do all of the really boring work.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t go back to using the old style interface, but the user could have always been given the option. This means if they had touched the onscreen image of the computer with their virtual hand, then the interface could have changed back to the user’s normal operating system and office applications, looking the same way they do today. (I think it would be like going from Dos, to Windows). If this application had been developed, then the public would not need as much training as they do currently, so as to use it.
The proposed version of office etc would have been using interfaces that would feel so comfortable for the user, that no training or very little training should have been required. In other words, if it looked and behaved like a real office, then obviously people should know what to do. This was seen as becoming a new killer APP, for the networks operators.
Microsoft and many others, have pre-programmed people to believe that their version of how things look, is the only way things should look.
Ok blame Doug Engelbart if you really want to nit pick?
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