DailyDirt: Input Devices Beyond The Mouse

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Computers have used the keyboard and mouse combination for several decades now, so it seems like it’s about time for some new input devices. It looks like gaming consoles have introduced some interesting alternatives that are a bit more useful than the joystick. The mouse and QWERTY aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but here are some quick links on some other kinds of input devices.

By the way, StumbleUpon can recommend some good Techdirt articles, too.

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Input Devices Beyond The Mouse”

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The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Seriously lose the keyboard/mouse combo already

And while we’re at it how about we do something about that archaic wheel invention.

Sometimes, not often but sometimes, inventors get something so right that it’s all but impossible to replace it with something that’s actually an improvement for an extremely long time. The wheel, the nail, beer, women (I keep hoping but no luck yet), the keyboard, and the mouse all fall into that category.

Having different input methods for things that can’t readily make use of a keyboard and mouse doesn’t mean they’ve been replaced any more than having non-water-flush toilets on the ISS means flush toilets have been replaced.

Ed C. says:

I think the mouse will only be useful as long as the GUI is treated as a 2D plane. They’ll get tossed by their USB corded tails when GUIs move into the 3rd dimension. Keyboards however have been around since the first modern PCs, and for about a century on typewriters. Voice recognition is fine in an isolated setting, like at home, but it would make the average office sound more like a stock exchange. (Really, just try working in a call center, surrounded by 200+ conversions at the same time.) Experienced typists can type faster than they can speak away, so I don’t see keyboards going away anytime in soon.

Rekrul says:

People have been trying to introduce new input methods for decades and there’s a reason most of them haven’t become mainstream; The current input methods work fine.

Keyboards – If you’re going to be entering text, there’s nothing better than a keyboard. Even if they can perfect speech recognition systems to be 100% accurate, they still have major problems. For example, what if you have the radio or TV on? Will it “type” the words from those sources? How will it know the different between words that sound exactly the same? There are many times you may not want others to know what you’re entering, such as account numbers or passwords. Not to mention that it would make workplaces much noisier if everyone was talking to their computers all day. Speech recognition would be great for things like information kiosks and such, but it will never work as a complete replacement for the keyboard. Beyond that, I don’t see any other new input method that can enter text as easily as a keyboard.

Mice – There are three main alternatives to the mouse; Touchpads, trackballs and touchscreens. Touchpads are used for laptops because it would be awkward to attach an actual mouse and having to carry one with you kind of defeats the purpose of having a self-contained system. I can’t recall ever seeing a USB touchpad for desktop computers. They probably exist, but judging by the fact that I’ve never seen one, I don’t think they’re very popular. Trackballs are popular with some people, but they’re basically just an upside down mouse and are hardly new. Depending on the design, it can be harder to move the pointer while holding down any of the buttons. Touchscreens have their uses, such as in ATMs, cell phones and such, but as a general replacement for mice, they suck. They require more and larger arm movements, plus if the screen is mounted vertically, like a tradition monitor, you’re going to get tired of holding your arm up, very quickly. There’s also the issue of fingerprints & smudges on the screen.

Joysticks – Although there are novelty controllers like the Wii Fit pad, the only serious competition for joysticks are gamepads. This is one development I honestly didn’t see coming. The Intellivision had a form of control “pad” in its disc controller and everyone hated it. Then a few years later Nintendo puts out a left-handed control pad and suddenly everyone (myself excluded) loves it. Now you not only have to use your non-dominant hand to control direction and sometimes complex movement combinations, you have to do it by pressing individual direction buttons. How these ever became so popular with right-handed people is still a mystery to me. Now most gamepads include at least one mini-joystick, and sometimes two. Of course, directional movement is still hardcoded to the left side controls though…

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