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What is the future of the traditional keyboard?


The QWERTY keyboard has dictated the way we’ve communicated with our devices since 1873. Is it time for change?

Your shiny new MacBook uses technology from 1873.

The QWERTY keyboard came from the Remington typewriter, and set the precedent for the way we communicate with devices for a century and a half to follow.

It looks set to stay that way too.

And the keyboard becomes unwaveringly tenable when you consider the economic and psychological cost of getting hundreds of millions of people to fundamentally re-learn how they work and communicate.

Every computer in the world more or less has its foundations in the QWERTY keyboard.

Designers have different ideas though. Siri, Oculus Rift and smartwatches all have one thing in common. None of them use keyboards.

And with a deluge of consumer tech on the horizon set to follow a similar path, the way that we interact with our devices will undoubtedly change.

Tim Green of Hot Topics sat down with the CEO of SwiftKey, Jon Reynolds, to discuss what’s next for touch based input.

“I think fundamentally you’ve always got to be innovating and moving forward. And so, the industry is going to change. Sure the interfaces of smartwatches, or other augmented reality glasses. Or whatever we are going to be wearing in a few years time, the interfaces and voice inputs will be different.”

Yet despite the changes that will eventually come to fruition, touch based input ubiquitously remains the industry standard.

Reynolds explains that it still has benefits:

“Right now, for smartphones. There’s a huge amount of value in using touch based input. Particularly in the context of what you are writing, often it’s sensitive, often there are issues in loud environments where it can be harder to do acoustics.”

Not to mention that voice assisted input simply isn’t advanced enough to replace the keyboard. As was demonstrated in rather spectacular fashion at Apple’s June 2015 keynote.

For now the keyboard remains king.