“Mommy, what’s a keyboard?”

Even with the explosion of the QWERTY keyboard being plastered on to almost every type of electronic device these days, I’m going to go out on a limb here-and-now to declare that the QWERTY keyboard will be obsolete within my lifetime.  This prediction is not limited to the keyboard device I’m using to type this article.  I’m referring to any type of letter based data input that takes the form of QWERTY.  The beginning of the end for QWERTY is not the Dvorak keyboard.  Nor is it speak [mis]recognition technology.  In my view, the signal of the end is technology such as predictive text input, search assistant and other peripherals.

Predictive text input is where an author enters the first couple of letters and then is presented with a word or list of words that most likely match the author’s intent.  The author keeps typing until the correct word appears, then accepts the entry.  On a cell phone number pad, each number represents 3 or 4 letters.  Predictive text input can quickly find the desired word, often with the push of only a couple of numbers.  In addition, more sophisticated systems will learn which words are most commonly used by the author and present those as first choices to the author.

With predictive text input, a person can drastically increase their typing capabilities.  I’ve seen individuals text with cell phone numeric pads faster than what is even possible on a smartphone QWERTY keyboard.  In fact, I would suggest that average wpm speeds of numeric pad texters with predictive text input even exceeds that of experienced typists on traditional full size keyboard devices.  That’s not hyperbole, and I’m not kidding.

Search assistant is similar to predictive text input, except a little more sophisticated and low key.  Competing peripherals have a lot more buttons than they used to.  Function keys are slowing being replaced by clicks on buttons on devices such as the mouse.

All combined, the QWERTY keyboard’s current Golden Age will be over soon enough.

Jon Hirschtick at SW Corp HQ

When Jon Hirschtick talks, his excitement is infectious.  Maybe reason for this is that he is excited about what he’s talking about.  At the recent visit to SolidWorks headquarters, several of us SolidWorks bloggers got to met with Jon again, but it never seems like enough time.

He talked about how he likes to keep up on what’s going on in the world.  He’s always looking for new technologies that may be worked into a new feature within the SolidWorks business model (my wording).

One particular area he talked about again was that 3D modelling isn’t owned by the 3D CAD industry.  It is owned by the Gaming industry.  The guys in the Gaming industry are the ones working with unique motion control within huge 3D worlds. This is a point he also made at SolidWorks World 2009.

He also is trying to keep updated on hardware technologies that may be used on the side of CAD but within the CAD context.   Again, he pointed to the Gaming industry and such devices as the Wii and Xbox.  Jon seemed fascinated by the fact that his son rather voice talk to him via the Xbox instead of the traditional land-line or cellphone because it is easier, its better quality and more reliable. He also mentioned that “kids” do not voice talk much on their cellphones.  They rather text.  Voice is reserved for emergencies. It is fascinating that the methods of communication used by older generations is much different than what is now being used now by the newer generations.  This process of change is likely to continue.

One prediction that he made is that cellphones will all soon be equipped with a projector that will allow human interfacing within the projected image.