The Future Has No Moving Parts (Or Hard Disks or Keyboards´┐Ż): Page 2

Posted October 1, 2009

Mike Elgan

Mike Elgan

(Page 2 of 2)

The second trend is toward solid state removable media. "Thumb drives" have replaced floppies, and could soon start replacing CDs and DVDs as prices fall. There's even some chatter that Microsoft could offer the netbook version of its Windows 7 operating system on a thumb drive.

But the biggest trend is away from media altogether in favor of downloads. Software is now mostly purchased and delivered over the Internet. And even full-length movies are downloaded, rather than watched from disk.

All the major movie rental companies, including Blockbuster and Netflix, are offering downloadable full-length movies. In just a year or two, this is how most at-home movies will be delivered.

Both these trends -- solid state removable media and downloadable code -- will kill off disks and clunky, mechanical disk drives from our devices forever.

The End of Keyboards

And the last bit of old-fashioned mechanics to vanish from our desks will be our keyboards.

Apple's rumored product direction is to transform everything into an iPhone. First up is the rumored tablet, which will have an on-screen keyboard and multi-touch screen. Then, I believe, Apple will offer a bigger tablet.

Eventually, Apple desktops will be like giant iPhones, positioned at a drafter's table angle, and controlled with fingers on glass. Want a keyboard? Just do the "keyboard" gesture, and one will appear on-screen.

Apple won't be alone. Microsoft Windows will support multi-touch, no-keyboard computing as well. Microsoft even has a patent for an extremely innovative on-screen keyboard.

According to the patent application, the virtual keyboard is divided in half, just like Microsoft's ergonomic line of keyboards. Each half automatically appears or moves itself to be positioned perfectly under your fingers. So no matter where you drop your hands while in typing mode, the "F" key is always under your left index finger, for example, and the "J" key is always under your right.

On future Apple and Microsoft multi-touch operating systems, haptics will give you psychologically satisfying tactile feedback. Voice-recognition and voice command, as well as better auto-correct and predictive typing will make the whole experience of getting words into your computer faster and easier than keyboards alone can do.

Some of us will go kicking and screaming into this solid state future. But resistance is futile. A world of electronics with no moving parts is a near certainty.

All trend lines point to the total elimination of funky contraptions that use gears, wheels, spokes and motors and other industrial-revolution technologies.

So as Moore's Law continues to make gadgets smaller, cheaper and faster, the solid state trend will make them greener, cleaner, stronger and easier to use as well.

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Tags: iPhone, keyboards, Solid-State Drives, media, Storage

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