CGUI

Background
The Chordic Graphic User Interface (CGUI) works in a totally different manner than other computer interfaces. For example, using a mouse you move a pointer to a button and click. Very simple and intuitive, but what if you were trying to do it whilst walking? Then it's much harder because body movement reduces your accuracy. The pointer is actually an extension of your hand, it's as if you are reaching into the computer to control it, the object in the pixel world of the screen reflects all the movements you make in the real physical world, it's direct manipulation. Imagine trying to do that whilst swimming!

That's the problem scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) faced when they tried to develop a computer for collecting data underwater. The AIMS divers wanted to control complex interfaces but do it swiftly and easily with one (either) hand. Initial experiments soon showed that normal interfaces were impractical, swimming and controlling a pointer required a lot of attention and was extremely difficult. They needed a simple interface, immediate, a push-button environment.

That was the impetus for the invention of the CGUI. Unlike a mouse pointer, nothing moves in the CGUI, there is no pointer, instead there is virtual manipulation. It's somewhat similar to shortcut keys, for example pressing Control C on the keyboard to copy something, but it's far more powerful. Firstly,you learn shortcut keys they are mostly "hidden". Where in the MS-Windows interface does it show you that pressing Alt Tab will switch between open windows? Secondly, each combination of keys is dedicated to one function, limiting the total number of things you can do.

How it works
Imagine you are holding a special keypad in your hand, under each finger there is a button. By pressing combinations of your fingers you can form chords (similar to a piano chord), each chord can have a different function, but how do you know what to press?

                     
This is where the CGUI comes in, at its simplest the computer screen has finger symbols showing what to press for a particular function. Let's create a simple set of text glyphs to illustrate this. A finger symbol (glyph) like this \|||| means press all your fingers (and thumb). A glyph like this _|... means press your first finger, \|... means press your thumb and index finger.

These glyphs are "literal", meaning they look like the finger combinations you are supposed to press. So we could put "SAVE" and \.|.. on a button and you can see that it means press thumb and middle finger to activate the save button. That's it! In a nutshell the concept is what you see is what you press. In other words you don't have to learn chord combinations to use the interface just look at the screen to see which fingers to press for any function.

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