The Mouse Faces Extinction as Computer Interaction Evolves

Washington Post (10/07/12) Ariana Eunjung Cha

Students today are part of the first generation growing up with a computer interface that does not rely on a keyboard and mouse. This fall, iPads are cannibalizing the sales of PCs in schools, according to analyst Charles Wolf. In the coming years, even more advanced technology, such as hand-motion detectors and voice-recognition systems, will be integrated into conventional computers. "If you let the plastic chunk that is a mouse drop away, you will be able to transmit information between you and machines in a very different, high-bandwidth way," says former Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher John Underkoffler. He notes scientists are developing new devices that respond to body motions, voice, fingers, eyes, and thoughts. In many elementary schools, students use the iPod Touch and the iPad to learn everything from the alphabet to preparing multimedia presentations. Although desktop computers help activate the language and abstract thinking parts of a child's brain, new interfaces can help open the spatial part, according to Underkoffler. In July, the iPad outsold the Mac two to one for the second consecutive quarter in the education market, according to Apple. "The adoption rate of iPad in education is something I'd never seen from any technology product in history," says Apple CEO Tim Cook.


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