Mouse-free computing is something we have just begun to taste. We have touchscreens on many devices including tablets, phones, and e-readers. These let us access the web; send texts, and emails all without a mouse. So is this the shape of things to come? Will we eventually leave the mouse in the dust and start mastering more advanced ways of communicating with our computers?
Consumers who own Wii or PlayStation video game systems already have an idea of this. Both of these game systems offer users the chance to play games and explore the online world 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 known as gesture sensing. The tech isn't quite ready for standard computing yet. However, it is not hard to imagine a future where gesture sensing becomes one of the primary modes of interacting with our computers.
But gesture sensing is only one interaction innovation. There is also multi-touch technology. Again, iPad and other tablet users are already experienced 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 different page on a website. By pinching pages, they are able to zoom on an image to make it larger.
Another possible technological advancement that could replace the mouse involves voice recognition. Instead of clicking on a mouse button to open up an application, users can merely tell their computers to open an individual word file or close iTunes. Some of this already exists, most notable is Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which allows users to dictate reports and stories to their word-processing programs. Again, the tech still needs refinement, but a future in which we speak to our computers isn't all that far-fetched.
While there are lots of ways computing can be improved through hands free navigation technologies. It’s likely we will not see the traditional mouse disappear for some time.