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In the age of gestural design, fact moves fast

aj+ column

More than 10 years ago I confidently prophesied that, by this decade, architecture and design studios would resemble dormitories. It looked like making sense to profit-conscious practice directors, because although they might have to pay for recliners (start-up/green practices would provide wooden pallets and futons), these could be plugged into a multi-level racking system, thus saving lots and lots of floor space and rent. And the staff could recuperate in comfort from all that whistle blowing and car-rump slapping essential in the morning cycle to work.

In the eerie but serenely dim light of the new-Cartesian-matrix-style drafting office, the most noticeable thing would be fitful hand-gesturing among the horizontal and apparently otherwise comatose layers of architectural staff.

The two technological keys to all this were the idea of gestural navigation control (ie waving your fingers about to draw plumbing layouts in three dimensions) and an eye-display system.

Of the latter, one idea was having your drawing written directly to your retina by a low-power laser. Somebody else's retina, you said to yourself.

None of this has happened. At least, to misquote St Augustine of Hippo, not yet.

But, hold it, as I've just discovered while doing background research for this column, the US firm Xybernaut has brought out a $1,500 computer, the Poma, which has a micro computer with a liquid crystal head mount display and an optical pointing device that 'can be used in the air in any orientation'. You can buy one at www. xybernaut. com/Solutions/product/ poma_product. htm. The Poma is being sold as a wearable computer.Why you would want to cycle or even walk down the road looking like a Trekkie on open remand is not clear. But bolt the micro computer to the side of your office sofabed, plug into the network, lie right back, adjust the headmount display and there are all the wonders of your architecture hovering two inches in front of your right eye.

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