Microsoft’s Chief Envisioning Officer sees a future without keyboards


Microsoft regularly post videos showing their vision of the future of technology, and while the result is always varied, one common factor is the absence of mechanical keyboards, and it appears the reason for this is that Microsoft just does not see a future for this long-lived technology, created in 1860.

Dave Coplin, Microsoft’s Chief Envisioning Officer predicted the QWERTY keyboard is set to die out in the face of emerging input methods such as voice input, gesture tracking and facial recognition.

“We have these amazing computers that we essentially use like we’re still Victorians,” said Coplin. “The QWERTY keyboard is a great example of an old design being brought forward to modern day. We’ve not really evolved. We still use this sub-optimal design.”

Coplin noted that even touch screen users still used QWERTY keyboards, but felt the rise of digital assistants such as Cortana was the real threat to the outdated input method.

Coplin felt voice recognition was now improving rapidly and that voice dictation would be much bigger in the future, particularly now that Microsoft is able to achieve near human levels of speech recognition.

Microsoft also saw scope for features such as facial tracking, which allowed Surface users to ditch the keyboard for logging in.

“We’re looking at technologies now like voice and gesture recognition, and facial tracking that may make the keyboard redundant,” Coplin said. “We think that computers in the not-too-distant future will be able to understand all of those things and infer on my behalf my intent, meaning and objective that I’m trying to do.”

Of course office workers are unlikely to write long report by voice, but Coplin felt for task-based scenarios, such as checking the weather, ordering a taxi or writing a quick email to a colleague speech, gesture and face tracking will soon replace the venerable 108 keys.

Do our readers think Voice will ever kill the Keyboard? Let us know below.