User Input

User Input: The Next Generation

keyboardTechie and I got ourselves into a lengthy and rambling discussion last night, which actually started with a conversation about Star Trek, and how the “advanced” user interfaces shown on the various TV series’ felt dated now. In the era of Tony Stark’s advanced gesture-based user interfaces, with fancy flying holograms and a cheeky AI to aid him, Star Trek’s clicky-buttons and non-multitouch-enabled touchscreens feel pretty out-of-date.

But, at the same time, as I sit down to type this, I type it on a solid, old-fashioned USB keyboard. Granted, it’s one of those low-slung Apple models, which it seems I am completely alone in preferring over all other options, but the basic functionality is no different from those original clicky-clacky IBM things that certain commenters used to use to drown out all conversations on Drunkcast calls.

So what of it? Is it ever truly realistic to think that we’ll switch to multitouch screens, or hand-wavy Ironman gesture computing? Or, if we’re honest, when the Enterprise actually launches in a few hundred years, will we probably still be using a reliable old keyboard?

[Image source: Josh]

  • 0A5599

    Voice recognition is getting much better.

  • 0A5599

    P.S.: I’m glad you were finally able to find your keyboard. Looking forward to new content.

    • Dearthair

      well, I don’t know how much new content there will really be, but I did eventually reach the point where I thought I should clean up in here a bit.

      • I don’t see how there can ever be much new content if you keep rejecting such promising work as “Writing Five-Hundred Word Essay.”

        • I have had a remarkable number of inquiries from people like “Barry from China” and “Geoff from Taiwan” who would like me to give them logins so they can generate some free content for us. It’s very nice of them, but I’m afraid I had to decline.

          • I don’t blame you. Geoff is okay but Barry’s prose tends towards the turgid.

  • I will be more convinced to switch to a smartphone once I can have a fold-out keyboard for a full-performance mini-laptop.

    • Vairship

      When will the fan-shaped smartphone be invented? I’d like a big screen and decent-sized keyboard, that can be folded up and put in my pocket. Current cellphones will fulfill neither the first half nor the second half of that sentence adequately.

  • For me keyboards will always have their place, because luddite. Seriously though, I can see using voice-to-text for short informal messages. Composing something with a little more importance means a keyboard to me. I just need the slower and more methodical approach to writing.

    To me the pinnacle of portable communication was the last generation real blackberry. Touchscreen, optical tracking cursor, and physical keyboard.

    I recently upgraded to a laptop with a touchscreen and I find it far more convenient to edit by touching the place on the screen where my mistaek is and correcting it. Now I rite gud.

    BTW, anyone going to this August?

  • Victor
  • P161911

    About 3 years ago I was working on a vending machine project where we seriously considered using a XBOX Kinect senor in place of a touchscreen. Ended up going with a 42″ touchscreen instead. Also, keyboards offer an unambiguous input device. I would hate for my spacecraft to veer off course into a sun because I had to pick my nose and the gesture got misinterpreted.