Whether you are reading this story on a PC or mobile devices, you are close to a QWERTY keyboard. If you are on a PC it is physical, if on mobile it is probably virtual. The good old keyboard layout is still the most widely used computing input method. However, Microsoft's chief envisioning officer thinks QWERTY boards are soon to go the way of the Dodo.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, Dave Coplin thinks facial tracking, and voice and gesture tracking will replace the QWERTY standard. Firstly, as chief envisioning officer, it is Coplin's job to, well, envision things. It doesn't mean he is right, but it does provide an interesting insight into the future. It also points to Microsoft's own ambitions.
Coplin says he thinks QWERTY keyboards will be replaced very soon. He is also a Cortana engineer and clearly sees virtual assistants as the way forward. In the interview he said he was surprised that users are still using an invention from the 19th century.
“We have these amazing computers that we essentially use like we're still Victorians. The Qwerty keyboard is a great example of an old design being brought forward to modern day. We've not really evolved. We still use this sub-optimal design.
[…] We're looking at technologies now like voice and gesture recognition, and facial tracking that may make the keyboard redundant.”
Entering full visionary mode, Coplin said computers will soon bring an all-body experience to users. He suggested this would be similar to the interfaces seen in the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report.
Chatbots will be a part of the evolution away from keyboards. Coplin says bots will help reduce the time it takes for users to complete computing tasks.
“We're going to see AI deliver these agents who will know who your family are, the things we like to do and places we like to stay, and on my behalf they will negotiate with all these providers and bring me back a little package for my perfect holiday”, he added.
Microsoft is definitely working towards this goal. AI, chatbots, and Cortana are at the center of the companies developments for future technology. Just yesterday, CEO Satya Nadella said AI will change the way in which we live our lives.
The question here is whether Coplin is right or wrong? Well, he is both. There is no doubt that the move towards more intuitive and automatic input methods has started. However, we have reservations that this will be a seismic shift that will happen “soon”.
For example, I write on average 8000 words per day. I just don't see an input method on the next horizon that could help me put those words down faster than typing. Voice input would be an obvious alternative, but I cannot speak the amount of words that I can type in a minute.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.