April 25, 2012
Will IVR Make the Mouse and the Keyboard Disappear?
By Jacqueline Lee
Reporter Peter Suciu, who relies on his ability to type to make his living, broke four fingers in his left hand while playing soccer. Suddenly, he could only type with one hand, and he was faced with a conundrum. How could he do his job if he found himself unable to type?
Suciu turned to Nuance’s (News - Alert) Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software. The software had to learn his vocal patterns, annunciation and even his accent. However, by combining IVR software with some hunt-and-peck typing, Suciu was able to keep doing his work. His experience made him wonder if the days of the keyboard and mouse were numbered.
Perhaps the primary enemy of the standard keyboard and mouse is the touchscreen that has been so popularized by the tablet, smartphone and eBook reader. In a few years, we may communicate with our computers entirely through multi-touch technology. Gesture sensing also threatens to send the keyboard and mouse to antiquity. Although its main application has been for the Wii or the Playstation, imagine what gesture sensing could do for our interactions with our computers and Smart TVs.
But while glorifying these other technologies, don’t forget the possibilities of IVR. Remember the computer on the Starship Enterprise? As little as 20 years ago, those types of conversational interactions with a computer seemed centuries into the future. Now, IVR programs like Siri and Watson as well as Dragon NaturallySpeaking are slowly beginning to enter the conversation.
Peter Suciu still found that the keyboard was necessary even while he worked with his IVR program. For instance, the program had difficulty distinguishing between “is” and “its,” which required him to make some changes using his keyboard. Until the bugs in these programs clear up, college students won’t be able to start dictating their term papers to their IVR interface.
However, when IVR, touchscreen and gesture sensing do take over, the beloved QWERTY keyboard and its point-and-click companion will inevitably become relics of the past. These changes will mean a whole new way of working for writers, reporters and other professionals who type extensively for a living.
Edited by Juliana Kenny