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The future of interfaces


One of the recent hypes in the business world is gamification. SAP is already experimenting with it and seriously looking into it. A good thing in my opinion as it can make some dull tasks more fun and it can engage people to perform their work.

Gamification will drastically change the interface and the way you interact in applications. No doubt about that.

Three dimensional

There is other technology that is hitting the market again in a new form which has been around for years: 3D technology. In the past year 3D technology has revived and is on its way to a bright future. While it might still take some time to get the technology refined, the technology is not too expensive and it brings new possibilities in terms of visual effects and the way interfaces are build.

TomTom NoNo

Sometimes I get a vibe and I go out and buy new technology toys which isn’t always a good investment. When the GPS devices were blooming I bought a TomTom 910 which had a hard disk build in to store music on and lots of fancy features. Back then it cost me around 700 euro and it was one of the worst things I have ever bought. It broke down after two years and a bit slightly out of the warranty period so it was a waste of money really. The name of the product didn’t help either as I often had to hear the joke that I needed three Tom’s to find my way.

Nvidia 3Dvision

Another investment I did about a year ago was buy a Nvidia 3Dvision kit accompanied by an Acer 23.8” LCD screen with 3D capabilities. The 3Dvision kit comes with a little pyramid that you plug-in using USB and 3D glasses. The pyramid then synchronizes the shutter glasses (using infrared signal) with the screen. The screen has 200Hz to be able to produce two images of 100Hz (to create depth and 3D sight).

While it was probably not the best investment I have done it’s one of the coolest things in terms of technology I have lying around. What is nice about it is that the technology works for any 3D game, so I can also play very old games with a little touch of 3D. Of course newer content that is build to be played in 3D works better. You can also view 3D pictures and movies. In the mean time there are already plug-ins available which enable you to display 3D content in a web browser window.


You can also auto convert 2D movies into 3D movies, this works well but can never give the same effect as something that was recorded in 3D. Sad enough a lot of Hollywood movies jumped on the “also available in 3D” wagon and are just converting their 2D recordings which gives a mediocre end result. One of the few movies that were build in a great fashion in 3D is Avatar. For start the recordings were done with multiple special camera’s thus having true 3D recordings. A second point is that the movie is not constantly in 3D but it uses 3D only when the director found it to have added value. For example a scene where they walk in the forest. This works very well.

Crysis 2

Crysis 2 is a PC game of which recently a demo was released. The development team promised to bring a whole new 3D experience, even better than what Avatar did. I have played the demo and it’s impressing but I cannot make a proper judgment yet as I only have a small portion of the game to judge on. One thing I noticed which was very cool is the interface. A lot of new games offer 3D compatibility but the menu’s are often build in 2D. In Crysis 2 the whole menu is 3D and it works well, it looks so nice that I was wondering if it would be a good interface for SAP applications.

Would it be useful for SAP applications?

In my opinion 3D technology offers new possibilities and is certainly interesting. You can slide windows up front and behind each other. Pop buttons out, bent the screen to have a larger pane without having to need a larger screen. You could say it doesn’t bring added value but improving the end-user experience is bringing added value. It’s more fun to work on an application that has a sleek looking interface.


Yes you still have to make sure the application works well but look at Apple and their product lines. What do all of them have in common? A great interface, it is what sets the iPhone apart from other phones. Of course now everyone started to copy the interface so other phones are also starting to have interfaces that look like the iPhone’s interface.

I have already read online that Apple is looking into 3D interfaces for future devices. Since SAP is buying a lot of iPad’s perhaps we will also be looking at 3D interfaces in a few years when using a SAP application on the future iPad. I have seen the BI applications on iPad which look impressive, they can even look better in 3D. You could have a profit bar jump out of the screen and hit you in the eye.

3D is now what about the future

While 3D technology has been around for years already, only recently it started to become generally available. The reason is that the quality didn’t use to be as good as it is today and also the costs to bring 3D capable devices is much lower now and starts to be affordable for the masses.

What we will see in the future will more likely resemble to what you saw in the movie Minority Report. Holographic screens and even holograms that you can actually touch and feel. It also reminds me of Star Wars really. The technology to have a hologram that someone can actually touch and feel is already existing. We will be able to sit in a meeting room with ten people on ten different locations but we will also be able to look at each other and even slap someone’s hologram in the face and actually feel it. The receiving person will probably not feel it but I’m sure they will build something to make it possible.


It’s a matter of time before the technology becomes affordable and hits the market. I hope I will still be around when it does because it gives a whole new set of possibilities. If you think you are connected now through twitter and social media, wait for the future where we will be able to actually walk around as a hologram in another location.

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  • I think we have all made some bad technology buys :-). I remember having an early MP3 player that was expensive and could store about 20 songs.

    What I am excited about is augmented reality and the 3D printers (although I found printer a strange word for something that really is a manufacturing machine)…you can already “print” instruments and I hear organs are in the future.

    Always enjoy your blogs, keep blogging,


    • Hello Natascha

      Thanks for the comment. I have one of those lying around as well, indeed not the best price/quality buy in the beginning.

      Augmented reality is also a very interesting topic and it will not take long before applications are in use that use the technology.

      Nintendo has showcased a game on the new handheld Nintendo 3DS where you have to fight a giant worm dragon (who comes up with this stuff) using the handheld as a weapon.

      I’m very much interested in all kinds of new technology. I saw a video on about the organ printing, it’s amazing really.

      Kind regards


  • Wow, organ printing! I wasn’t sure I was understanding these two words correctly, but I was! I just watched the TED video, very interesting and inspiring research.
    Thanks Tom for blogging about almost everything on SCN! You always spark good conversations.
    About your GPS dying just after the warranty expired. That’s probably not a coincidence, as journalists have shown how companies started asking engineers to design less robust products, to increase the demand in a consumption society that started facing cyclic crisis at the end of the 70s. But that’s another topic 😉
    • Hello Laure

      Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it.

      Many videos and topics that are features on TED are interesting and often inspiring.

      On the GPS, it made me more careful in buying products, I’m still waiting on buying a pad although I have much interest in it I have the feeling it’s still not what it should be.

      I read this morning iPAD 3 would be coming in September possibly so I’ll be skipping number 2 also and if iPAD 3 doesn’t feature usb or other similar connectivity I hope a good Android pad is launched to provide a good alternative.

      Kind regards


  • We would get to develop something fun and easy to use.   I often hear how hard SAP is to use.  It’s already getting easier.  Web development has helped that.

    But 3D, holograms…  I hope I’m around to see it, and take part.


    • Hello Michelle

      Thanks for your comment.

      I followed a short session on web dynpro ABAP a few weeks ago, it was very interesting to see what is possible already today compared to some years ago.

      SAP seems to be going in the right direction by investing time and money and checking out new technology and different experiences (gamification, iPAD etc) so it looks like there are exciting times ahead of us.

      It does make me think about how much fun it would be fun to jump forward in time and teek a peek at the future.

      Kind regards


  • I think this concept goes with the 3D technology now being available in our mobile communications.

    3D in SAP! I just visualized myself there and I could visualize a scene from movie ‘Minority Reports’ where the entire activity was being 3D controlled. It is just so exciting to anticipate that but I think thats a very long way from now.

    This blog is an absolute mind candy and refreshing in the mid of the first working day of week.Thanks lot.

    With Regards,
    Kumud Singh

    • Hello Kumud Singh

      Thanks for the comment.

      3D interfaces will soon hit the smarthphones and alikes so it will be interesting to see what added value they can bring.

      Your welcome, it was my pleasure to write it.

      Kind regards