Google Cards NOW!

You’ll know that I’m super interested in Glance Interfaces and Gist Summaries. I see the combination of these two technologies and techniques as being instrumental to the information overload we all now face – and that which was originally faced by blind users navigating through complex and extensive information. I’ve been working on these topics for the last 12 years with gist summerisation papers produced since 2006(ish).

Google Cards

Google Cards

So I’m really excited by Google Now and the ‘Card’ API which should, but doesn’t exist to us non-googlers! In reality I really think that the card interface on ‘Now’ is a real game changer for Glance interfaces, and I also expect that it’s use in ‘Glass‘ will cement its usefulness. Pushing information in this fragmentary format is not just good information navigation practice, but has the potential to be so much more for visually disabled users. The information on the cards is atomic and can be understood in a very short time – this means that it is very suited to auditory interaction, especially of multiple parallel auditory streams.

Being able to get the salient information to the user in as short a time as possible, but with just enough information so as to be useful, is critical to these kinds of interfaces and interaction scenarios and cards do this really well. I think if Google decide to open up the card interface so we can all build or consume card information, the future could be increasingly bright for Blind and Visually Disabled users.

But, at the Google Developer I/O Fireside (at ~35:30) they say NO!

So how do we go about this? Well for a while I’ve been thinking if lever-ageing the machinery for global notification systems – such as ‘Growl‘ on mac OSX, ‘Prowl‘ on iOS, or ‘NotifyOSD‘ on Ubuntu – accessed through the DBus protocol – is the answer. While it is obvious that this wont allow everything we need, it maybe just what is required in this context. Of course the big point is that we wont be ale to get Card data out of Now and into the system level notifications to be collected.

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