Microsoft researching user aware computing technology

Posted by Mark Raby

San Jose (CA) - Microsoft is looking into technologies that replace standard computer operation with more interactive, user-friendly methods.

This week, Microsoft is at the international Computer/Human Interaction Conference (CHI) in San Jose, presenting a new touch-screen interface for PDA and ultra mobile PC (UMPC) applications.

The company's "Shift" technology wants to axe the stylus-controlled norm for portable devices and make it more intuitive for finger-controlled navigation.

"HCI is about observing people, and when we do that, we see them using a PDA with their fingers. We as people who make software need to take this into consideration and make technology that works with the way these devices are actually being used," said Microsoft researcher Patrick Baudisch.

It's similar to an approach from Apple with its iPhone, which will rely heavily on finger-controlled touch screen input because there are no standard buttons on the phone.

Microsoft is also talking about several other budding technologies at CHI, including more refined image searching on the web, interactive 360-degree PC mouse controls,  and introducing ways to bring computers to "first-time, non-literate PC users."