Before jumping into any conclusions, let me make it clear to you. There are no active projects currently taken up by Canonical in these areas. Consider these as pure experiments with the future of desktop in mind. Read on.
Computer Controls With The Help of Hardware Sensors
Advent of Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Kinect, Apple iPhone and the likes changed quite a lot of things. The first thing they destroyed was the perception that, computer controls are all about keyboards and touchscreens. As we are all aware now, there are a bunch of hardware sensors which, with the help of state of the art software, could do such wonderful stuff which we haven't even thought about before.
The above video is a Microsoft XBOX Kinect advert. It will show you a glimpse of the limitless possibilities of the whole idea.
Its Usage in Ubuntu, Some Interesting Real World Scenarios
Canonical design has come out with a number of scenarios where you could actually implement the whole idea of hardware sensors + software to help create the future of desktop. Here are they. First one is the 'Lean back fullscreen' scenario.
From the picture itself, I hope you get the point. If the user moves further from the screen while a video is playing on the focused window, the video will go automatically to fullscreen.
Design team have put together a quick mock up video. The video also demonstrates window parallax effect, wherein, a gesture of the user could also trigger the launcher appearance.
In my opinion, it is quite reassuring to know that, Canonical is actually thinking about the future of desktop and trying to innovate and experiment, instead of just following. As Canonical puts it, "We came up with few scenarios which are far to be developed and specified, hopefully will just open some discussions or, even better, help to start some initiatives." Anybody?
[via canonical design]