Interfaces of the future
As old fashioned as it seems, the mouse and keyboard approach are still by far the best option in the most cases. Use a tool in your had to manipulate things around you — you get audio, visual and touch feedback from a mouse and keyboard. All the new approaches we see today are either mimicking old technologies like the mouse and keyboard or provide application specific controls on a touch interface or game controller: on screen keyboards, tapping and clicking virtual buttons, dragging virtual sliders with your mouse or finger etc.
Having used LEAP motion for over a year, I can see the benefits in some areas, like new ways to control games or tracking your head for virtual 3D without glasses, but the lack of feedback on my hand always throws me off when interacting with a virtual interface.
I can see the appeal of using more than your hands or your hands differently to control computers, but there is nothing out there that comes close the ease of use and efficiency of touch: touch screen, keyboard, mouse, trackpad or graphics tablet.
Always on voice recognition of course come to mind, but with recent security breaches, I would not be comfortable with tens if not hundreds of microphones listening to me all day — or even at night.
I can’t imagine voice control being a good idea for open floor offices or just offices with a few people in them. Especially in public, voice control is weird (Google Glass anyone?). Only few of us actually have an area where voice control is usefully applicable. Except maybe the kitchen, Amazon is taking care of that.
I can see dictation becoming more capable. Dictating text using more complex controls like “delete last sentence” and “insert paragraph before the second sentence”.
There is a lot of potential using the interfaces we already have, new ones will emerge with new applications, not as designed interfaces, ready to be made useful. Just like language isn’t invented and then used, but evolves from use — and designed languages like Esperanto don’t get used much by non-enthusiasts, just like the LEAP motion.
Update March 12, 2015
The extensions of existing interfaces Apple recently published, specifically force touch, haptic feedback though electro magnets that respond with a tap from below the trackpad, are very interesting iterations of traditional input devices. I can see the evolution of existing technology like touch-screen to multitouch to force-touch sensitive multi-touch being where the ship is sailing.
Also the addition of the “taptic engine” to the Watch in place of the annoying buzz from a traditional vibrator, indicates a shift towards less intrusive interfaces. Putting our devices back into the utility category, from wich they have slowly crept out into our daily life, interfering with human interactions.