What will computer interfaces look like in the future?

(Azareal) #1

Continuing the discussion from In the future, all computers will be tablets!:

Honestly, I can imagine computer interfaces eventually becoming holographic. Holographic monitors. Holographic keyboards. etc.
Devices keep getting smaller, technology keeps advancing, and smaller devices mean less possible screen space.


Except the current generation of phones are bigger than their predecessors, specifically so that they can have more screen space.

(Jeff Atwood) #3

I think most phone devices are going to stabilize at around 6" screens. There will also be tablets of 10" and larger for more involved work.

That’s how the vast overwhelming majority of human beings will interact with computers in the future, IMO. Yes there will still be desktops, laptops, but only for specialists.

“Welcome to the future, here’s your black rectangle.”



No. Tablets, phones and other touch screen interfaces are great for the consumption of information. They are horrible when it comes to actually doing work though. I cannot imagine an accountant, computer programmer, author, or anyone who actually has to enter any quantity of information in to a computer using a tablet as their primary device for work.

On the consumer side, maybe they could take over completely. No one who does actual work on a computer will be using a touch screen interface though.


No. There will always be a market for smaller screens (probably 4.5" to 5") for people with smaller hands. I will never buy a 6" phone because it is simply too big for me to use as a phone.

(Jeff Atwood) #6


It’s all but confirmed that iPhone 6 will have 4.7" and 5.5" screen options at launch.

There’s obviously a point of diminishing returns with size, which I think is around 6", but if you want to call it 5.5", I won’t quibble. Obviously we aren’t all going to be running around in 2020 with 13" phones in our giant pockets.

Are you a T-Rex? :wink:

As for me, I am a man. I take up space.

I have a 5 inch Nexus 5 at the moment, as I was testing out the Android world (conclusion: meh, the Windows 3.1 of mobile), but I can’t wait to switch back to the 5.5" iPhone 6.

(cartman82) #7

If you look at the graphs before iPhone, you would see an opposite trends, with phones getting smaller and smaller. There’s nothing to say the current trend will continue.

Once the next interface paradigm emerges, touch screens will start to look just as obsolete as qwerty mobile keyboards and trackballs. Everybody will suddenly remember how much it sucks to smear your greasy fingers over the dirty glass, not being able to use different fingers for different actions and a thousand little things we are ignoring now.

(Azareal) #8

I can imagine hologram technology going mainstream eventually. Who would need a bulky physical monitor when you can get a hologram to replace it?
Depending on how miniaturization goes, I can imagine computers getting fairly small.

It would also do away with the need for physical screens in general thus, the devices could get smaller and smaller again.

That’s one possibility. Either way, something will eventually come along which will obsolete touch screen technology.

(Jeff Atwood) #9

I thought LED mini-projectors might be nice, but probably only for projecting media and movies. Not sure how you could project a UI (find a flat whiteish surface? too bright?) and then use it too (Minority Report gloves, Kinect 7?).

For the forseeable future, it’s touch devices. Black rectangles getting progressively thinner and lighter. Kind of boring, actually, but maybe boring is what it takes to get computing to the next 10 billion people.

(Kris) #10

Hah, you’d think so - but I’ve worked on a handful of digital platforms for textbook publishers and they’re finding that a surprisingly significant number of students are completing homework on cell phones and tablets. All the new software being developed is being spec’d for mobile use. There’s already speculation that more assignments will be completed on mobile touch devices than desktops/laptops in under a decade.

The next generation of our workforce gets shit done on touch screens. The generation gap is already forming.

(Tomo Vukasović) #11

Who even cares anymore. They just make new things and we as developers have to adjust. I hope they will ask us something in future and for once follow certain standards.

(Jens Maier) #12

I agree with @codinghorror to some degree. As far as the coming-to-market-soon future is concerned, slightly larger phones and tablets will become the norm for online communication.

Productive work, however, this won’t be. Virtual keyboards incur a significant sacrifice in terms of screen area and don’t come close to the precision of physical keyboards. But does this affect forums? Maybe. Depends on the purpose of the forum. I can’t see anyone typing up a full featured Howto here on meta on a tablet; all the puctuation in Linux commandlines, Ruby code and Markdown would make the prospect a nightmare.

But we’re allowed to dream… it’s just hard to draw a line between realistic, achievable-within-our-lifetime technology, and good old science-fiction. Personally, my wild, wild guess is that our grandkids will know stationary computers only from museums; their computers will be tablets, their walls and windows will become monitors, and their tables become virtual keyboards. A productive work environment wherever you choose to plop down your tablet.

And after that? Well…

(lid) #13

Augmented reality, technologies like google glass / oculus. is only going to get smaller lighter and faster with higher definition. It will eventually eliminate the need for physical screen. combined with eye tracking and brain wave analyzer(external) for accurate intention detection.

You want to type. No problem, with a blink of an eye (literally) you open an virtual keyboard. swipe your eyes rapidly over a bunch off letter. the brainwave detector (mind reader) will determine which keys you actually have intention of adding.


The problem with wearable glass is noticeable.


(Tomo Vukasović) #14

If you have global pollution then proper full face/head helmet would be required. It purifies your air plus you can tune down outside noise. That way you can speak on the phone in your own private world. No more weird people talking to themselves. It also has all Glass capabilities, but much bigger screen. I think that Daft Punk already has prototype:


Not to mention normal size pockets.

(Silver Quettier) #16


The vast majority of human-computer intaraction nowadays is meant to consume data, not produce it. I am amazed by how touch devices have became the norm in our world in only a few years. My daily commute is filled with people of all ages playing games or reading the news on their phones / tablets / digital corgi.

People producing data, either as professionals or hobbyists, will always need more specialized interface, that’s true. But they are far from being the norm. Simply being here, on Discourse Meta, means we’re not the average Internet user.

I would go further and say that it can be good to see a higher activation barrier to data production. Most people don’t really have anything to say anyway, so if the future means they will find that posting a comment on that Youtube video is too much of a hassle compared to what it would amount to… Well, mission accomplished.