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January 06, 2009


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Jeremy Kidd

Man, I love the Onion. Imagine a day when everything you need is only a few hundred mouse clicks away...

David Ainslie

Interesting post Chris, and the video is very amusing indeed. We are almost at a time where technology can do everything for us, but eliminating the humble keyboard especially on the trading floor will only cause problems, in my opinion.

While it is natural for humans to talk, it is not in our nature to dictate, and this is where the errors with voice command technologies will occur. When the trader says ’Bye’ does it mean Buy or farewell? Allocating codewords is never going to be 100 per cent effective, as it is impossible to know that a word will not come up in conversation. There will always be a great risk, and an even greater potential loss at stake. Even junior traders can enter and execute trades quicker than they can say it. In this current economic climate, I can’t see CTOs planning to invest budgets into technologies which could potentially cause huge consequences.

Keyboard technology has already progressed beyond the standard QWERTY layout and when combined with voice technologies could enable trading to be much more effective. Ultimately, a keyboard with the equivalent of ‘Buy’, ‘Sell’ and ‘Cancel’ buttons should always act as the last step in confirming the transaction, although voice and other data entry technologies should help the trader navigate the different screens and options, before making the trade.

It could be a while before this happens, though!

Chris Skinner

Thanks David

I guess we're looking at talk and touch, e.g. you point to confirm commands like in Minority Report or Microsoft's Surface: http://www.microsoft.com/SURFACE/index.html

The combination of touch and talk overcomes the issues you raise I would have thought?


David Ainslie

Hi Chris,

I really like this line of development, the hand gesture interfaces can certainly help navigate a database, be it media, maps, information or whatever but it would not work in the current form in a fast moving trading floor.

Think of the voice and gesture interfaces seen in Star Trek and then think of how they use the Phaser. No gesture or voice command just a simple button, something tactile that has a single purpose in an easy to find position.

Sure the iPhone interface is fantastic but I find the inability to highlight so you can cut or copy and paste a killer.

That’s not to say someone much brighter than me will come up with an intuitive interface that works. After a generation used to using a mouse and GUI there are still many tasks that are quicker and easier to do using the command line interface.

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