June 13, 2007

The Future is Here

Tucked away in a bland, multi-storey building on the eastern fringe of the Queen's campus is a renegade troupe of truly out-of-the-box thinkers who are busy creating the future. Strung out on enabling something called attentive user interface, the folks at Human Media Lab are Canada's answer to MIT and Stanford. As their web site states, their mandate is to "develop disruptive technologies and new ways of working with computers that are viable 10 to 20 years from now."

They are currently working on the design of organic user interfaces, an exciting new paradigm that allows computers to have any shape or form. Some amazing examples of their research can be found on their videos page, but the one getting the most attention from the media (including Wired and Businessweek) is their device for advertisers to track the effectiveness of their messages by measuring how many people are looking at their billboards and screens. This invention, called eyebox2, was unveiled at Google HQ last month.

What is so striking is that the team is currently working on creating and launching truly attentive (and interactive) work stations, computers, and cellphones, and even household appliances. And what with the Premier of Ontario announcing yesterday a grant of $21-million for Queen's to create and build an Advanced Research and Innovation Institute the stuff of cartoon fantasy and sci-fi blockbusters appear to be just around the corner...

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