New technologies move beyond the mouse, keyboard, and screen

Say hello to a new, simpler era of human-computer interaction, CNN reports—this time, with no clunky hardware standing between you and digital information. Instead of sliding a mouse across your desk, you could just point at whatever you’d like to select. Instead of pecking away at a keyboard, you could just say what you’re thinking. And instead of glaring at a big screen all day, why not just project that information on the surface of your contact lenses? None of this is science fiction. These ideas are here today, some of them in research labs and others already on store shelves. And, thanks to Microsoft’s remote-control-free Kinect video-gaming system, these futuristic concepts for computer-human communication are about to get a lot more popular, technology researchers believe. Microsoft’s Kinect, which hits stores Nov. 4, lets players control games by moving their bodies. It’s an effort to make gaming more “natural.” And that concept—that we don’t need intermediaries to help us talk to technology—is likely to bleed into every aspect of electronics and computing in coming years. “It’s all fantastic, because it’s a really useful educational opportunity for the world,” said John Underkoffler, creator of a real gesture-based computing system that was featured in the 2002 movie Minority Report. “It’s only been a few years that people have started to realize, ‘Wait a minute! We’re not stuck with the mouse and Windows-driven interface for the rest of time.'”

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