CHI 2004, Vienna Video Visions of the Future – A Critical Review

Panel at CHI 2004 in Vienna

Organizer: Eric Bergman, then Sun Microsystems

CHI Paper (2 pages)



This panel explores the impact video and film visions of the future have had on the user centered design, with a focus on the role of corporate vision pieces from recent decades. Two video vision veterans join us: Hugh Dubberly, co-author of Apple’s “Knowledge Navigator” and Bruce Tognazzini, creator of Sun Microsystem’s “Starfire”. We concider how far the CHI community has anticipated or created the future. Are we better off having created these visions, or are they costly exercises with little or no reward? Lastly, we view excerpts from several Hollywood films to ask if they teach us something envisioning the future.

The Videos

  1. Knowledge Navigator, Apple Computer (1987), [5:45]
  2. Starfire, Sun Microsystems, 1994
  3. The secret life of Dr. WhatsOn, Nokia, 2000

Extended Summary

Knowledge Navigator, Apple 1987, 5:45

wikipedia: Knowledge Navigator

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox

Starfire, Sun

Starfire home at

Tog on Starfire

Driving questions for Sun as a networking company:

  1. How can we make use of the internet?
  2. How can someone create a presentation in a couple of minutes?

Flashback 1995

dhyman asks: what is better, viewing vertically or horizontally as far as applications are concerned. I'd imagine video conferencing as vertical and spreadsheets horizontal. Do you not see cruising through a virtual 3d spreadsheet landscape as a possibility?

Tog: I recently put the finishing touches on a film, Starfire, that features a computer display I designed that is 2 square meters in size and is a portion of a sphere, featuring both vertical and horizontal surfaces that wrap around the user. Vertical surfaces are, I think, superior for conferencing, particularly with viewports big enough to deliver a real sense of reality.

Horizontal surfaces are advantageous for gesture and stylus interactions, where users can sweep their hands over the surface of the display. People can't hold their hands up in the air for long periods of time.

On TV in 1996

Internet Archive: New PCs - 1996

  • Ten years after the PC revolution, experts were saying the PC model is obsolete. This program looks at several fresh approaches to the personal computer. Included are the TransPhone net terminal, Apple's multimedia Pippin Power Mac, the brand new Palm Pilot from U.S. Robotics, the BeBox using the Be operating system, and Oracle's new NC or Network Computer. Guests include Bruce Tognazinni, author of "Tog on Software Design. Originally broadcast in 1996.

Fast Forward 2003

BBC asks Tog what broadband will mean for the Internet 3.5 minute video in Windows Media format Lo-fi verions and more interviews on IP Issues are available at BBC World: IP Issues, October 23rd 2003

Bill BuxtonBill Buxton: Compare HCI education with art school and film school. What is the equivalent of sketching in interaction design? Copy existing work before you can apply the techniques to your ideas.

A sketch without a social life is not a sketch. A sketch needs a place to live.

A cork board is the place to store sketches. Hence electronic cork boards are needed for interaction designers.

All levels of fidelity.


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