Category Archives: Human Computer Interface

The Martians have arrived.

You have undoubtedly read a lot about the new Apple Watch.  Having been a definitely apple Fan boy since I purchased my first 128K Mac in the early summer of 1984, I was VERY interested in it.  But, with a price take of about $600 for the main version, I just could not justify the expense, no matter how cool it was.  Plus, I found what I was really looking for for about $170.

Let me preface this with the simple fact that I have been a fan of “smart watches” since the late1980s.  I remember well my Casio “databank” watch.  Yes, it was very ugly, but it was really cool having all my phone numbers loaded into a watch.  Also, the watch actually was responsible for helping reunite me with my family after an accident in the 1990s.  I was run over by a car in a crosswalk, and somehow, while being checked into one of Oakland’s largest hospitals, my wallet was lost.  So, I became a John Doe until one of the bright nurses figured out that I have this watch that had phone numbers on it. They found the number for my brother in San Francisco, call him, and he helped it going to find me.


Then, only a couple of years ago when Kickstarter first started, I became one of the first investors in the new pebble watch.  I’ve used it daily since then for all kinds of things such as showing me what’s coming in on my phone, checking the temperature outside, and all kinds of other cool little things.


But the one thing it didn’t do was allow me to connect with my phone and make phone calls or receive them through the watch, just like Dick Tracy.

But the Apple Watch certainly does this, I discovered another brand, Martian, that works quite well for doing this.  You can’t really compare to the Apple Watch at all. I’m like the beautiful color display, all the various sensors, and just that “Apple quality”, the Martians actually pretty simple.


  The top half of it is actually a traditional analog watch face.  At the bottom of the screen is a small strip with an LED display.  This can show me a variety of information such as tax that are coming in, who’s calling me on my phone, the temperature, and a variety of other things that are fed to it from my phone.  Additionally, there’s a button on the left-hand side that, when pressed, opens up a connection with my phone and allows me to use a built-in speaker and microphone in the watch to make phone calls, receive them, and converse with Siri.   Plus, though not something you want to listen to music on, the quality isn’t half bad.  The only thing you have to be particularly careful with is the fact that it is charged through a microUSB port on the side.  Though it is covered by a little rubber plug, the watch is anything but a waterproof.  Forget about it and accidentally get it wet, and you’re going to need a new watch.

I really need this!!!

Sincer I bought my first Mac and was introduced to the ubiquitous mouse, I’ve been fascinated by new ways to interface with a computer.  I’ve tried a whole slew of pointer controllers including track-balls, track pads, chip movers (a strange tiny cube you moved), and most recently a motion capture system that allows me to control my screen using my hands.  I’m a very big believer in Voice control, and even considered a strange device you wore on your head that allowed head movements to control your computer pointer.  It never caught on for the general market, but has become very popular with the severly disabled.


Yet, since I first read William Gibson’s Neuromancer and heard the term “jacking in” I’ve longed for a time when I could directly connect my mind with the computer.  Well, that wait is no more.  Several companies have developed products that read brain waves and then use them to control, or at least see them on your computer.  One of the most imaginative is Necomimi.  They’ve created this device you wear.  It has a small sensor  you place on your forehead, a clip you attach to your ear, and two soft, furry ears that pop out of the top.  Turn it on, and it will read your brain waves and control the ears.  Get into a relaxed state, they lay down like you are sleeping.  Become alert, and they perk up.  Get, “in the groove” and they wiggle back and forth.  I mean, this is something I REALLY NEED!