The Future of the Mouse – An Interview with a Second Life Banker

In the beginning, the intersection of brilliant, pranksterish academia and the military gave rise to gaming. Later, the widespread adoption of computing and gaming demanded a system of usability standards. Thus, the mouse was adopted.

Finally, after a long hiatus, the era of a trackpad or surface-bound mouse may be trumped by a Wii-like distance mouse. This means that mouse-inventor Doug Englebart’s vision may be closer than previously thought.

Or does it?

I asked a number of people about where the felt the mouse would go in the future. The most interesting response I received was from a guy I met last month at Reed College in Portland, Oregon (Steve Jobs semi-alma-mater). The guy did security for Second Life’s online banking systems.

He said that the computer screen will evolve to be closer and closer to the eyes, in the form of glasses. The user will be able to track and move objects on the screen through the use of rings on his hand. Also, image recognition will allow better photo tagging in real time. Viewed objects will have associated tags used to help the user. The digital will blend more and more seamlessly with the real.

However, computing has flirted briefly with near and far control tactics. The Wii-like controller path will usher in an era of larger screens with more movement from the user, but glasses could allow that as well. What do you think?