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Input Technologies: Traditions and Innovations

Input technologies are another crucial pillar of personal computing. Tactile feedback and/or intuitive input are very important for effective usage. Given the generally increasing amount of devices, in 2020 there will be a lot more ways to control PCs than there are today.

When it comes to a traditional desktop or notebook, keyboard and mouse/touchpad have proved to be efficient and comfortable. But given the fact that almost all devices nowadays feature web-cameras, it is more than logical to incorporate basic recognition of gestures into the future personal computers. In fact, a special motion sensors like Microsoft Kinect (which even now costs considerably less than $100 to produce) would noticeably change the methods of interaction with consumer electronics and PCs. Moreover, facial recognition will also change usage model considerably (imaging that a computer/TV/etc knows preferences and applications that are used personally by you). It is naturally not a good idea to wave to your PC or speak to your laptop in a public place, but when in appropriate environment or while gaming, motion-sensing input should not be underestimated.

Unfortunately, given the current turmoil on the market of non-traditional input, it is highly unlikely that there will be revolutionary changes on the market even in ten years down the road.

"This is a nescient market that lacks any standards (not the least of which is a common vocabulary), is confused (and confusing) in its own terminology, and has limited applicability. Also, too many people confuse gesture with touch when discussing the UI," said analyst Jon Peddie.

Slate-type personal computers or smartphones will hardly benefit from motion-based input, but they will probably benefit from, for example, recognition of environments. For example, a mobile phone can automatically reduce the ring volume while at business meeting. A notebook or a tablet could automatically find documents or fetch additional information from the Internet that may be related to the ongoing conversation.

In fact, one of the most important qualities of personal computers of 2020 will not be ability to offer different input technologies, but to recognize actual necessities based on environment and current activity. The best type of input is the lack of any special input from the end-user. Indeed, Intel is already working on context-aware computing and probably ten years down the road we will see the fruits of that work.

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