Remember 10 years ago when voice-recognition and Dragon Naturally Typing was going to replace the keyboard? Yea that didn’t quite pan out how we all thought…
I think at some point we were going to replace the mouse with eye-tracking lasers on the monitor and then some sort of brain-tie-in that would tell when you “clicked” something, but that never happened either.
Apparently analytist think it will happen this time… for double-realsies and it’s all the touch screens and “facial recognition” that will do it. They claim that the iPhone (touch screen) and Nintendo Wii (Wiimote) are opening the doors to alternative manipulation devices that will usurp the mouse. The analysis did concede that the keyboard wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon though.
This reminds me of the days when we all had CRTs and would freak out when someone would come over and smear their greasy hand down your monitor trying to point at something. Am I really going to be picking my hand up off the keyboad and shoving it into my monitor’s eye to work my way around a UI?
Am I going to take my hand off of my keyboard and pick up a Wiimote-esque pointer to “waggle” it at the monitor that is sitting a foot from my face to draw something or throw my IM window around the screen?
I think these new technologies open the doors to interesting applications inside specific pieces of software (like Google Maps with a touch screen or Photoshop with a Wiimote) but ever time I have ever seen a fundamentally new mechanism for controlling current computer systems they never catch on.
The only way I see this stuff replacing the mouse is if the way data is presented and interacted with is fundamentally changed… and if you are going to do that then, you will have new input systems because you have new systems; so not much of a surprise there.
In the mean time, I think the mouse and keyboard are going to be with us for another 15 years. 10 years for OS manufacturers to realize that we don’t have to keep using the Windows 3.1/Macintosh paradigms from the 80s and can actually do something different, then 5 years for it to catch on to any degree.