Mouse-free computing is not unknown to us. We navigate on our smartphones, tablets, and e-reader using touchscreen technology. And I’m sure this is just the beginning of interacting with computers without a mouse. So, can we ever ditch the mouse completely for more hands free technologies?
Consumers who own Wii or PlayStation video game systems currently have a sense of this. These two game systems offer users the opportunity to play games and explore the web through wireless remotes that synch with body movements. Wii players can smack a tennis ball by swinging their hands when they hold a wireless remote. They are able to jog in place, climb a virtual mountain, or shoot menacing robots in the same way. This is called gesture sensing. The tech isn’t quite ready for standard computing yet. However, it is not hard to imagine a future in which gesture sensing becomes one of the primary modes of interacting with our computers.
But gesture sensing is simply one interaction innovation. There is also multi-touch technology. Again, iPad as well as other tablet users are already familiar with this. By tapping icons on their screen, they are able to open apps and programs. By swiping their fingers across the screen, they are able to flip to a new page on a website. By pinching pages, they are able to zoom on an image to make it larger.
Another possibility for controlling computers is vocal recognition. This technology already exists and is quickly rising in popularity as developers work out the kinks. One of the most common vendors is Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Vocal recognition technology has a ways to go before it’s perfect, but technologies improve so rapidly these days that I don’t see it being too long before voice-command functionality becomes standard in all devices.
No matter what new technologies arise or how refined the ones we spoke about get, chances are that the mouse is not going to disappear all together. It has served us well, and we know we can easily rely on it.