There’s some great work being done out there towards multi-touch interfaces, as featured in the Apple iPhone and in great work from Jeff Han. In full-screen two hand interfaces like that, I see potential for an idea I had many moons ago, around 1994, while at university.

If you’re manipulating objects on a screen with your hands, there’s only so much you can do with different configurations of your fingers: stretch, resize, move, etc. More complex operations are going to need a specific “tool” to be selected before an operation can take place, like choosing the brush or move tool in Photoshop.

The idea is that at the top corners of the screen, “drawers” of “gloves” are hidden. As you move your hand to the top corners, the drawer opens, and you can (virtually) wear different gloves for different purposes. A resizing glove on one hand and a reshaping glove in the other. A movement glove on the left and an animating glove on the right.

It seems obvious, but nobody had done it in 1994 and nobody seems to have done it to date. I was excited when I saw Minority Report, but the interface didn’t need that level of detail. Jeff Han’s work is much more elegant, but it looks to be using quite complex finger gestures. Some make sense, but I’m sure they’ll hit a cognitive barrier sooner or later. There just aren’t enough fingers, or positions for fingers, to emulate everything that Photoshop offers, for example. Virtual Gloves provide a clean, intuitive way to work with large-scale touch environments.

Why publicise this? Since this site is archived in at least a couple of places, it should count as prior art, so the idea can’t be patented and locked away — it’s public. Of course, if someone wants to offer me a job (or a research project) making this a reality, speak up. Email iain [at] funwithstuff [dot] com.