James Kendrick points to an idea from David Beers about a simple but innovative idea for UI’s on mobile devices. Basically, the user could use a touchscreen to navigate a decision tree, where only the next action would presented.
From David’s post:
Imagine that instead of the usual smartphone graphical menu–a grid of icons to tap–we had the icons arranged in, say, a ring with a tiny “+” to mark the center. That mark is where you begin the gesture to perform a new task. To check your Gmail account you move the stylus from the center of the screen toward the Email icon, which in turn enlarges and moves to greet your stylus point. Other icons shrink and move out of the way–you’re not interested in them now. As the pen approaches the Email icon the most common email tasks emerge as icons and text around it: perhaps Fetch, New, and Read. Moving the pen smoothly toward Fetch it expands and account option icons blossom from it: Work, Gmail, and All. Change the direction of the pen movement to meet the Gmail icon and lift the stylus point. The email client launches and checks your Gmail account after a single stroke of the stylus. The visual effect could be stunning–variously rendered as flying into the interface or watching a vine sprout in stop motion video. It would be easy to make this the stuff of a Hollywood sci-fi thriller.
After living a couple months with the touchscreen-less Motorola Q, I can definitely appreciate how much more useful something like this could make a phone.
I agree with James that the fingertip interface is much more user-friendly. It’s my impression that geeks don’t mind pulling out a stylus, but that real people don’t want to look like geeks.