Recently, the iPhone 4S received tons of positive attention for one of its most impressive features, Siri. Apple’s new Siri technology allowed you to fully speak and have it converted to text message, navigate search engines through voice, and more. Regardless of the tons of attention received for the technology that is being painted as cutting-edge and unique, it really wasn’t anything new.
Voice to text, for example, has existed on the Android platform for a while. As for things like search engine search, and other ‘exclusive’ Siri features? Similar technology exists on the Microsoft end between Phone 7, Xbox/Kinect, and even Windows 7. So what does this mean for the future of Windows 8? Expect all these features to come together cohesively in Windows 8 on the desktop, laptop, and tablet side of the product fence.
When Windows 8 arrives next year, expect features that utilize Kinect on the desktop side and even other voice elements for the tablets. Even the Kinect Beta is coming out for the PC in January, around the same time the Windows 8 Beta is expected. This means that with Windows 8 you might be able to just plug in a Kinect and instantly have support in place.
Once Windows 8 makes its way to tablets and possibly even phones, it is likely that Windows 8 will have technology just as good as what is in place with Siri as well.
The only thing you have to wonder is if the idea of hooking up Kinect is really practical enough to catch on. For a laptop PC, it is more than likely than answer is no, but for the desktop? I guess it really depends on the desktop setup.
Where I really think that Windows 8 and Kinect will shine is for multimedia PCs. Metro has many things in common with the interface of Windows Media Center, and allow it looks a little boxy on large screens the idea of apps on the big screen and the ability to control them all with Kinect sounds rather appealing. Additionally a huge Kinect camera wouldn’t look nearly as obtrusive in a living room setup.
In Windows 8 I sincerely hope they do optimize the system for Kinect, at the same time I think its equally important to optimize voice technology that perhaps combines the use of webcams with microphone technology. Such a setup would certainly work better for laptops and even desktops.
It seems that the future of technology is pushing the old-style keyboard/mouse setup into the background with voice, gestures, motion, and even touch taking a new front-seat. Such a dramatic change in direction is certainly going to cause mixed reactions.
Traditionalist and power users are likely to be the last people to pick up the new input crazes, although early adapters like me will find it hard to resist at least trying to use these alternatives.
I am very curious how others in the tech world and readers just like you feel about the recent push forward to touch technology, voice, and other alternatives. Will the keyboard and mouse simply become a standard only for major productivity use and not for ‘content consumption’ and casual users? I think this is probably the most likely scenario at least in the immediate future.
In the long run, do I think that mouse and keyboard could dissapear altogether? Possibly, but not without some major improvements in voice dictation software, touch interfaces, and other such alternatives. For now, there are just some things that a keyboard and mouse can do better than touch and voice. For example, try doing a major Photoshop project using nothing but touch and voice, good luck with that.
The future of technology certainly isn’t standing still though. Have a strong opinion about alternative input methods? Share your thoughts below.