Jorge Manuel Santos and Carlos Morais Pires European Commission, DGXIII-F3, Av. de Beaulieu 9, B-1160 Brussels, Belgium, email: Jorge.SANTOS@DG13.cec.be
The importance of a good user interface can not be underestimated. In the end is the user interface that determines how the application or system will be used, independently of how powerful or advanced the underlying technologies are.
The success of future information services will therefore be critically dependent on the facilities the user has for interacting with the services, the applications and the content.
Market availability of user-friendly, multisensorial-multimodal interfaces are therefore crucial, if not essential, for building a user-friendly, all-inclusive Information Society.
In more than a decade of technological advance we are still using basically the same graphical user interface introduced by Apple Computer Inc. back in the eighties with the Macintosh. Despite the advances in microprocessor design, memory capacity, storage and display technologies we are still limited today by a user interface that was not designed to handle, in a effective way, the diversity or sheer amount of information we need and work with today.
Today, the user has to learn and adapt himself to the constraints and limitations of the user interface available to him, and often finds that little or no concessions are made to his individual preferences and characteristics.