It seems hard to believe, but the ubiquitous computer mouse has been with us for less than 30 years. It’s difficult to recall how revolutionary a development mouse technology was compared to the restrictive keyboard-based functionality that was a carryover from the days of typewriters.
Indeed, the mouse completely changed the way we interact with computers.
But the mouse’s days may now be numbered, as newer technologies are emerging that help people “do more with less” – such as drawing three-dimensional objects or even browsing images during medical procedures without actually touching anything.
The Wall Street Journal reports that several “boutique” developers are moving ahead quickly:
- Leap Motion is introducing a ~$70 device that enables users to control a laptop or desktop computer by simply waving their fingers or hands in the air. Reportedly, Leap’s technology is geared to particularly precise actions such as drawing a picture or writing words by virtue of the fact that it can track motions within a fraction of millimeters.
- PrimeSense is developing motion-sensor technology that can be embedded into signs that change when different people stand in front of them.
And the big guys like Apple and Google are in on the action, too. Microsoft is planning to release an upgraded version of its Kinect for Windows software, which has already been downloaded 350,000+ times since its introduction in early 2012. Microsoft sees the enhanced software enabling the development of everything from advanced surgical procedures to inexpensive 3-D body scanners.
All of these developments are possible because of the growing success in harnessing the power of infrared light to create three-dimensional “zones” where minute movements can be detected. It can be applied to nearly any software to which it is connected.
Based on how rapidly the technology is moving forward, it’s safe to say that inside of a decade, the computer mouse may be a nothing more than a quaint anachronism.