Tuesday, March 27, 2007

ZenZui: Microsoft's New Web Navigation Interface For Phones

ZenZui.jpgProbably thought out by some interior designer with one too many sake shots inside him, ZenZui is both the name of a new Microsoft-backed startup and a new interface for phones designed to "transform how people engage, consume and interact with Web content through a revolutionary mobile user experience and information ecosystem."

Or in other words: "OMFG! We must do something about that iPhone-thang! Pronto!"

ZenZui's Zooming User Interface organizes Web and user content in 36 tiles arranged in a virtual desktop grid. The desktop can be panned and zoomed in or out using the cellphone's touchscreen or numeric keypad. Then, when you activate one of the tiles, it will show you a small interface, which appears to follow the same directional pad control for user interaction. The interface looks rather sleek and zoomtastic, I have to say, but you'll be the judge after you see the video demonstration, right after the jump.

The idea was originally patented at Microsoft Research labs, although to me it looks inspired by Don Hopkins' pie menus and the Nintendo Wii Channels. The system will require the participation of carriers and content providers, but beyond Kayak.com, OTOlabs, Avenue A | Razorfish, and Traffic.com, there's not much more detail.

The press release babbles on about social connections and digital content sharing, but I don't know if this is just marketing drone speech or if ZenZui will offer the users the possibility to share their bookmarks and content using a centralized server or some kind of peer-to-peer messaging. You can clearly see a "Rate tile" button on the screenshots in the gallery, so there may really be some kind of social bookmarking/recommendation system in place.

We will know more from CTIA, when Brian and Jason get their sticky paws all over it.