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The keyboard and mouse are dead! Or maybe, like the old man in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, they’re not quite dead yet.

But without a doubt, we are finally seeing the long-expected shift in how we interact with computing devices and resources. And we are all spending a lot less time using our fingers to tell a computer what to do.

Computing Interfaces Are Evolving

The rise of smart speakers and devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, along with smartphone-based assistants like Apple’s Siri, has led to voice commands quickly becoming a primary way to interface with computing. And while this seems commonplace now, just ten years ago few would have expected this shift in computing interfaces to become this ubiquitous this fast.

Along with voice, there are other innovations and changes that are coming quickly to radically change the nature of computing interfaces. And many of these changes fit within the highly fluid (meaning, heavily hyped and hard to define) category of ambient computing.

Joining voice in these innovations is using our hands but not actually touching anything. New technologies like Google’s Project Soli and Intel’s ambient PCs are making it possible to use hand gestures in the air to tell a computing device what to do.

So instead of touching a screen to scroll down or zoom in or to do many other tasks, a user can simply wave their hands over a sensor to do the same things. When tied to augmented reality systems, especially delivered over smart glasses, we can quickly see a change in computing interfaces much like those seen in movies and shows like Minority Report or Westworld.

But when can we expect to see these advancements and the benefits they bring to be tangible?

The Future is Already Here (Well, Almost)

Believe it or not, some of these changes are already happening, especially in areas like repair and in-field service. While field service may not often seem like a sexy, cutting-edge technology arena, it has historically been a testing ground for many innovative technologies such as mobile video, the Internet of Things, and augmented reality.

Of course, this is just simple good sense, as technicians in the field are able to see immediate benefits from these new technologies. Imagine being a tech trying to repair complex machinery where you need both of your hands. Being able to talk to a device, to use glasses to see live IoT driven telemetry in an augmented reality view, and being able to just wave your hand instead of picking up a tablet or laptop — all of these can save time that technicians would otherwise spend focusing on repairs and not on how they are going to balance their tablet.

Some may think these new computing interfaces may be far off, or not applicable — many said the same thing about voice controls and now they spend most of their computing time talking to a digital assistant.

So expect to see continued changes in computing interfaces and expect them to come sooner rather than later. But don’t expect the keyboard and mouse to go away anytime in the near future.

While we may be using them less to interface with a computer or scroll through web content, they are still the best way to write anything longer than a sentence or two. And since content is still one of the biggest drivers of today’s Internet, keyboards will still be clacking away for some time.

Long live the keyboard and mouse!