Using a keyboard, a mouse, and a stereotyped set of interaction techniques has been for years the universal way of interacting with computers. Since then, it has been shown that alternative input methods can make the interaction more natural, more efficient, or more appropriate to certain tasks or to certain user skills and handicaps.
Still, very few commercial applications can be controlled using alternative (impoverished or enriched) input methods. This is because all GUI toolkits have been built with the standard "mouse + keyboard + widgets" paradigm in mind, and the cost for implementing any other input method is high.
ICON (Input Configurator) is a novel system for making input-reconfigurable interactive applications. It allows programmers to test and validate a large number of dedicated input methods by connecting input devices to applications through adapters. It also allows power users to customize these methods to suit their needs. Application domains that could benefit from such a system include 3D authoring, virtual reality, computer games, accessibility for disabled users, wearable and mobile computing, and embedded systems.
ICON is implemented in Java. It is still under development, but you can try it by downloading an alpha release. ICON is currently used in the Gina project for developing MAriNA II and Svalabard multimodal user interfaces. A revolutionary Post-WIMP graphical toolkit called MaggLite is also being built on top of ICON by Stéphane Huot, who became the main contributor to the ICON project.
See video examples showing the functionality and possible uses of the Input Configurator.
ICON is now a sourceforge project distributed under the BSD license.
See here for complete references.
The original publication on ICON (IHM-HCI 2001):
Input Device Selection and Interaction Configuration with ICON
A 2-page abstract (UIST 2002 demo):
ICON: Input Device Selection and Interaction Configuration
An up-to-date paper on ICON with useful terminology (ICMI 2004):
Support for Input Adaptability in the ICon Toolkit
The full PhD thesis, in French (2004):
Un modèle d'interaction en entrée pour des systèmes interactifs multi-dispositifs hautement configurables
Stéphane Huot's recent work on MaggLite (UIST 2004):
The MaggLite Post-WIMP Toolkit: Draw It, Connect It and Run It
[www] Pierre Dragicevic
[www] Jean-Daniel Fekete
[www] Stéphane Huot