Canonical, through Christian Giordano, presented a few days ago a demonstration of a system which detects physical context, and that could be implemented in future versions of the Ubuntu operating system.
With the help of a webcam or infra-red/ultra-sound sensors, the idea of this context-aware UI (user interface) concept is that the computer will be able to detect user's presence (like proximity sensors of today's smartphones). Therefore, the computer will automatically change to the screen layout.
"During a small exploration we did internally few months ago, we thought about how Ubuntu could behave if it was more aware of its physical context. Not only detecting the tilt of the device (like iPhone apps) but also analyzing the user’s presence." - said Christian Giordano.
We've listed below some scenarios given by Christian Giordano. Just remember that no one knows when or if they will be developed/implemented.
Lean back fullscreen
If the user gets more comfortable and leans back in his/her chair, or moves further from the screen, the video will switch automatically to fullscreen.
If the user goes away from the computer screen, the notifications could appear in fullscreen, in the middle of the screen (in persistent mode). This way, the user can easily read the notification when he/her returns.
Some gestures of the user may trigger the launcher's appearance (see the video below).
Of course, the possibilities are endless. For example, let's say that you are working from your netbook and you must immediately go to the bathroom. The netbook will no longer detect your presence and will go in a stand-by mode. The screen will be activated when you return!
"With few hours available, I mock up something very quickly in Processing using a face recognition library (computer-vision)."
"Despite it could be hard to detect the horizontal position of the user’s head without a camera, we are in no way defining the technology required. The proximity could be in-facts detected with infra-red or ultra-sound sensors." - commented Christian Giordano in the blog post.