It’s really funny that if you look at the history of the personal computer, the keyboard is probably the longest standing friend to the personal computer and it seems to be pretty well-established; and damn near impossible to get rid of…
Watching the race of touchscreens, portable devices, smart phones and whatever else comes along; it seems that just about every device is going to have to have a keyboard. A lot of portable devices now use the touchscreen as a quasi-keyboard, but nothing really takes the place of having a full-size keyboard, or at least something big enough to use comfortably.
You might ask about the mouse; the mouse seems to be one of those devices that people can do without if they have a touchscreen. They have to learn a whole new set of finger gestures and operations, but I think the average user can get along without using a mouse. Everyone seems to be very excited about technology that makes you look like you’re in a scene from Minority Report; moving your hands, pointing your fingers, throwing information from screen to screen. It’s all very exciting, but even in that movie, there there were keyboards.
Ever since tablets have been introduced, even back when Microsoft tried to do tablet PCs over 10 years ago, keyboards were still something that people had to have…
Let’s face it, voice-recognition is nice. When you have the ability to use technology and software like Dragon NaturallySpeaking to allow you to dictate to a computer and have your words turned into text on the screen; it’s very nice. But what’s not nice, and where the problem comes in, is where the user wants to have a confidential exchange. Unless that user is in a private room when they’re doing dictation, everyone’s going to hear exactly what you’re saying, and what’s being sent to the other person. There’s nothing confidential about speaking out loud private details… So now you’re back to using a keyboard.
Keyboards continue to be the users confidant; allowing them to share the information in their head with another party without having to speak it. And keyboards have been proven to be more productive and more comfortable than the touchscreen alternatives that most tablets have. This explains why you have wireless keyboards, Bluetooth keyboards, USB keyboards— all variations, but you have keyboards.
If you look at the cycle of the tablets that have been released, tablets get released, they’re very snazzy, very fad like, but then slowly the users start looking for Bluetooth keyboards and mice. The users want to be productive. I think most people are noticing that tablets are kind of cool, but they’re not productive if they don’t have some sort of input device, like a keyboard.
This is one of the reasons the Microsoft Surface is being looked at as a great combination of tablet and PC, but is not really any different than what Apple has been doing with the iPad. Not to mention the android tablets as well. Customers want the snazzy look of a tablet with the production of a keyboard.
Until companies can come up with some sort of way to get your thoughts, confidentially, from your head onto a computer screen without you speaking, users are going to continue kneading the keyboard. And even further than that, I just don’t see the keyboard going away. There seems to be an innate requirement for people to look at things press keys and have something happen.
How do you feel about your keyboard?
Larry Henry Jr.
…via Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12