Saturday, March 12, 2005


Think about all of the things in your life that have buttons:
  • Your cell phone
  • The radio in your car, along with the dashboard
  • Your microwave oven
  • Your camcorder and digital camera
  • And so on...
Anything electronic has bottons -- sometimes lots and lots of buttons.

All of these buttons will begin going away within the next 10 years, replaced by a speech interface. You will speak rather than pressing buttons. You will tell your microwave what to do, along with your cell phone, the car radio and so on. And these devices will talk back.

People in 2050 will look back at buttons the way we would look at a coal-fired oven or the hand crank on the front of the Model T -- hopelessly primitive.



At 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buttons will still have their uses, especially in public places, much in the way a person might type a text message rather than make a call on a crowded tube train, better than being overheard / inflicting their conversation on other passengers.

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Mike said...

Buttons will most definitely NOT be going away in the next 10 years or so. People who think that they can predict the future have been saying this ever since computerised speech recognition became practical, i.e. for the last 20+ years. During that time buttons have been proliferating and they'll almost certainly continue to be one of the main ways in which we communicate with electronic and electrical equipment in the future. They'll continue to do so because they are cheap to implement and they get the job done in an easy and efficient manner. Also they can be designed in such a way that their use is self-evident.

Voice interfaces on the other hand are often a pain to use. They have to be trained so that they recognise the user's voice and accent. They cease working in slightly noisy environments. The user has to learn what commands are required to operate the device. I certainly have no desire to have to waste my time training all the different devices that I purchase and neither do I wish to have to spend time learning their commands. I would much rather press buttons. I suspect that many other people share my view.

At 6:44 AM, Blogger Roland said...

In a few decades we'll have direct brain control of things, but until then buttons will be useful in crowded places or if you don't want people to hear what you're typing. We all need secrets, you know!


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