Friday, November 4, 2011

Death of the computer monitor?

There are bad ideas and then there are BAD ideas. The video linked to the title of this article is one of those ideas that I hope never catches on, but you never know. Microsoft is developing a computer control system that doesn’t require a monitor or keyboard. A projector contained in a device attached to your shoulder transmits a keyboard on any surface and you can use this image as a touchpad. You can use your hand, the office wall or your picture of Lady Gaga as a screen, rather than having that troublesome monitor and keyboard in front of you. One of the selling points in the video is the suggestion that you can walk over to the office wall and perform your work there.

Experts who have studied the effects of engineering on society have determined that a lack of innovation can be very detrimental. The assertion has been made that Germany lost WWII because they were too inflexible with their designs. It was too hard to work new developments into their assembly lines and they quickly fell behind as the Allies introduced a steady stream of improvements into the war effort. But there is a flip side to development and this is the point of this article. One thing that has a crippling effect on progress is the desire to reinvent the wheel every Monday morning. Examples of this are all around us in the workplace and in our homes. Take a chair for example. Chairs have been around somewhat in their present form since the time of the Grecian Empire. Despite the efforts of companies to change the basic form of a chair, the fact remains that chairs fit the human body and you mess with the basic design at your own peril.

Some brainiac at Microsoft has evidently forgotten the fact that sitting in a chair in front of a keyboard and monitor is the best way to get most computing task done. I don’t want to project a keyboard on a wall or the palm of my hand. I can type 60 words per minute on a keyboard, and there are a lot of words in a novel. Most of them have to be typed over and over in the creation of a manuscript -- a process that takes months or perhaps years to complete. Before the guys at Microsoft become too giddy, they should realize that some task performed on a computer are much more complicated than composing a message on Twitter. ‘mte u n clelnd ths wknd’ might not be the message to get the job done.

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