What is natural user interface (NUI)?

You may have heard the term NUI or natural user interface tossed around. It refers to a computer interface that is devoid of peripherals such as a keyboard or mouse.  Instead the human body is used to interact with the computer.  If the idea seems abstract, think about the movie Minority Report…


Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect is probably the most well known device that currently offers the opportunity to use NUI.  Its latest version recognizes a user’s body movements, facial gestures, voice inflection and even heart rate.  From an educational perspective, this opens the door for many interesting implementations.  This can allow for a possible multi-sensory educational experience unlike any we’ve seen before.  Students can operate with the learning modality that best suits them. The potential positive outcome of increased confidence in educational endeavors could change the academic trajectory of many students; particularly those with learning disabilities or many on the autistic spectrum.  There are obvious challenges to overcome such as cost, expertise and proper implementation, to name a few.  But that doesn’t mar the endless possibilities that such engaging, intuitive technology presents.