Devices like the iPhone and Nintendo Wii already use “gesture-based systems,” instead of clacking on keys or clicking and double-clicking a mouse.

“The idea that natural, comfortable motions can be used to control computers is opening a way to a host of input devices that look and feel very different from the keyboard and mouse,” the report says, adding that the coming release of Sony’s Gem gaming system will reveal the next step in gesture-based interaction. “Instead of learning where to point and click … we are beginning to be able to expect our computers to respond to natural movements that make sense to us.”

Augmented reality is a technology that the Horizon Report’s authors expect to take hold in the next two to three years. Mixing “virtual data” with the real world could enhance college lessons in ways a textbook—or even a computer—could not.

Overlay maps will let students view a historical site, for example, and see what it looked like at different points throughout history with the help of augmented reality.

The European Union is funding a project called iTacitus that will someday allow students to see the Greek Coliseum and what it might have looked like with athletes in action and onlookers cheering, according to the report.

A German company has already developed a book that uses augmented reality, the report says, and the results could add a new dimension to reading. Users install software, point a webcam at a standard textbook, and watch as 3D globes and geographic locations pop up.

The University of Canterbury in New Zealand developed a high-tech tool that “translates sketches into 3D objects,” perhaps allowing for building designers to create and present a complex architectural proposal.

“Students receive immediate visual feedback about their designs and ideas in a way that allows them to spot inconsistencies or problems that need to be addressed,” the report says.

Link:

2010 Horizon Report