The Age of the Mouse: Ending?

One button, two buttons, three buttons, ten million buttons. Beige, black, white, red with polka dots. Glow-in-the-dark, see through. Right-handed, left-handed, both. Vertical for RSI patients, trackballs for weirdoes like myself, Apple’s puck mouse for sado-masochists. The ubiquitous mouse comes in all possible shapes, forms, sizes, and colours, but according to our friend The Analyst, the glorious age of the mouse is coming to and end. Do we believe The Analyst?

The Analyst happens to be one from Gartner this time, a man named Steve Prentice, who, after walking the floor of the CES show earlier this year, concluded that the glorious age of the mouse is coming to and end. He was wowed not only by the already yesterday’s multitouch technology (Windows 7, Apple’s multitouch trackpads), but also by electroencephalography devices from Emotiv Systems. Electroencephalography devices use electrical impulses from your brain to control gaming consoles – at just USD 300. “Here you have taken something that is very geeky and almost medical in nature and have brought it into the living room at a price point of USD 300 and have turned it into a ‘I want that, too’, device,” he said. The death of the mouse is supposed to be underway heavily between two to four years from now.

I have a very hard time taking any of these predictions seriously. Multitouch devices, for instance, certainly have their place in smaller and mobile devices such as MIDs, mobile phones, and tablets, but for the more traditional computers such as desktops and laptops, it makes a whole lot less sense since using a vertical, upright display for multitouch actions is very tiring and impractical from an ergonomic point of view (try some imaginary window manipulation on your screen, and see how utterly uncomfortable that is).

The electroencephalography devices are most certainly interesting, but they are mostly fit for specific markets such as game consoles or people with disabilities who could especially benefit greatly from this technology. I fail to see how I could write a report for university, or update OSNews (which means lots of browser windows flying around my display) with such technology. I can barely keep track of all my open windows as it is, and then they expect me to control them with my mind, which is already working its behind off trying to come up with the perfect opening line of that university project.

It’s great to see all this innovation happening in the world of input devices, but to declare the end of the mouse at such an early stage? I don’t think so.


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