14 September 2010

Extensive interview with user interface expert Bill Buxton

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Bill Buxton
Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail has published an extensive, three-part interview that Chad Sapieha conducted with Microsoft Principal Researcher (and fellow Canadian) Bill Buxton.

“You’ve likely never heard of him, but he has almost certainly had an impact on your life. A principal researcher with Microsoft Research who commutes from his home in Toronto to Redmond, Washington one week out of every month, he conceives and develops innovations in user interfaces. He played a chief role on the team that invented the multi-touch user interface. That was in 1984. He was also co-recipient of an Oscar for scientific and technical achievement in film in 2003. And he’s currently lending a hand developing an exciting consumer technology that he predicts will begin its march toward ubiquity in just three short years (no spoilers here—you’ll have to read on to discover what it is).

A conversation with Mr. Buxton is filled with fascinating digressions about the history of current technologies and how decades-old innovations can be the foundations of some of the most stimulating modern gadgets. The interview I had with him in July was arranged so that we could discuss Kinect, Microsoft’s new controller-less interface for the Xbox 360, but that ended up being just one part of our lengthy and enlightening discussion. That’s why I’ve decided to transcribe the bulk of the conversation. To do anything less would deprive readers of his captivating tales of technology.”

The first part deals with the back stories of several modern consumer devices, from touch screen phones to smart watches.
The second part focuses on Kinect, the motion-based, controller-less interface that will come to the Xbox 360 this November.
In the final part Buxton reflects on what the next big thing will be.

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