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Thoughts, comments, news, and reflections about healthcare IT from Microsoft's worldwide health senior director Bill Crounse, MD, on how information technology can improve healthcare delivery and services around the world.

Microsoft Health Tech Today—The Future of Natural User Interface (NUI)

Microsoft Health Tech Today—The Future of Natural User Interface (NUI)

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On this week’s episode of Microsoft Health Tech Today my special guests are Drs. Eric Horvitz and Susan Dumas of Microsoft Research.  It is always a treat to visit with my colleagues from Microsoft Research.  If you follow HealthBlog you know that we often get an inside look at future technologies long before they show up in the commercial products and solutions all of us use every day.

imageYou’d have to be asleep at the wheel if you didn’t already know about the monumental transition of information technology to software and services in the “cloud”.  But you may not be as aware of the other big inflection point in computers and computing.  It will significantly change the way we interact our computers and perhaps even our notion of what a computer really is.  I’m speaking of the evolution of the computer user interface and the very devices we use as computers.  I think we’ll one day look back at this era of mice, keyboards, and laptops and say, “Wow, wasn’t that weird!”.

The computer is now many things.  It’s our iPad, our Smartphone, the flat screen media device in our living room, the server controlling a myriad of other smart devices and sensors in our homes, and it’s our Xbox 360 (connected via Xbox Live to 42 million other users).  Next month when consumers start adding Kinect to the mix, they will begin to experience something quite unlike anything they’ve ever used before.  The “computer” will recognize faces and respond to hand gestures, body movements, and voice commands.  It will watch how you move and teach you to dance or how to perform yoga.  It will help you lose weight or become more physically fit.  You’ll even be able to interact with virtual animals on the screen.  No longer will wires and controllers get in your way. 

This is the beginning of a new generation of what we have historically called the “user interface”.  All of that is happening now.  If you want to peek into the crystal ball and see what’s ahead and the many ways we will be interacting with “computers”, information, and data, then be sure to watch this week’s edition of Microsoft Health Tech Today starting Tuesday, October 26th.

Microsoft Research

Bill Crounse, MD               Senior Director, Worldwide Health          Microsoft

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