Is the keyboard a time-limited technology?

Humour me for a moment.

Set a timer for 30 seconds and start it running. Then close your eyes and try to imagine what your working life – or your leisure time – would be like without a keyboard. Come back to me when you are done!

How many things did you think of that you use a keyboard for? Plenty of work tasks, probably. Email to friends and family. Masses of things you do through the web.

Now think of the number of things you do today that you couldn’t do without a keyboard just a few years ago. Ask a smart speaker for train times, TV schedules, to play a tune, to tell you the weather. Speak a text message to your phone and have it transcribed. I’m sure you have more examples.

Keyboards are a recent invention. It was the 1870s when they started to be commercially successful – in typewriters. Computers came later. We talk about computers being invented in the 1950s, but they didn’t really hit mainstream office work till the 1980s. The gap between then and now – just 40 years. Hardly any time at all.

For all of the life of computers, people have been developing speech recognition technology – see our recent blog entitled “The History of Speech Recognition Part 1”. It’s come a very long way in that you can speak a text message or ask an inanimate object if it will rain tomorrow and expect a cogent answer.

It’s odd, in a way, that we feel so chained to our keyboards. We feel we can’t really manage without them. After all, there is a very real sense in which, for many tasks, they’re not needed. They can even slow us down.

It’s already well known that Dragon can turn the spoken word into text three times faster than typing. Firms save a lot of time and money using it – we’ve done research in the financial services sector that shows this.

How long before this stops being something of a secret and people start to catch on? After all, if you could get your written work done more quickly and speak your emails to friends and family, there would be more time for other stuff.

Shut your eyes again and think of the other stuff. What’s not to like?

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Alixson Bell

About Alixson Bell

Alixson graduated from the University of Washington in 2008 and promptly started her career in the computer software industry at a company called Varolii Corporation in Seattle, WA. After Varolii was acquired by Nuance, she quickly became enamored by the many ways to improve customer satisfaction through omni-channel customer service solutions, all powered by AI. She is now a Senior marketing project manager for Nuance, but more than that, she is a firm believer in Nuance’s technology and teams who are tirelessly focused on customer-centric outcomes and results.