Hopes for future technology sometimes seem desperately romantic. It’s easy to feel slightly uneasy when IT experts talk about the increasing role of automation or robotics, for example.
While it’s clear the continued evolution of technology is likely to lead to the increasing pervasiveness of IT, a healthy dose of scepticism is always sensible - especially when people start talking about robots replacing humans. This brings us nicely to touch-sensitive technology – because much like robotics, the potential for innovation appears boundless.
Most users still rely heavily on the keyboard and mouse, devices that take up a lot of desk space when they are used in combination with a PC.
But despite limited portability, the combined interfaces of mouse and keyboard have been the interface of choice for three decades-or-more.
Potential alternatives have always been by constrained by technological limitations. Until now, that is.
Get ready to forget the mouse – because when it comes to interaction, users will increasingly be dependent upon a broader range of gestures.
Because individuals have spent the last twelve months-or-so getting used to new ways of controlling their hardware – whether they’re waving their Wiimote to control in-game characters, or gently massaging their iPhone screens to select favourite songs.
The revolution took a significant step forward recently, with Microsoft’s announcement that its next operating system will come with touch-sensitive features.
The announcement is representative of a significant step change in direction. In the near future, users will control devices with all manner of different gesture – including speech and facial recognition.
Think about how you could increase the speed of data input through sign language recognition or shorthand tablets - and then think about you will be able to push a dramatic reduction in the number of applications that require a full QWERTY keyboard.
And while at an early stage of development, Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems’ BrainGate technology shows how humans - and quadriplegics, more specifically - can control computers by mind-power.
So, that’s the mouse replaced. Now to consider those human-replacing robots…