Thursday, July 24, 2008

No, the mouse isn't going away

A response to an earlier article ...

"There's a silly BBC article making the rounds that proclaims the imminent extinction of the computer mouse. It begins:

It's nearly 40 years old but one leading research company says the days of the computer mouse are numbered.

A Gartner analyst predicts the demise of the computer mouse in the next three to five years.

Taking over will be so called gestural computer mechanisms like touch screens and facial recognition devices.

"The mouse works fine in the desktop environment but for home entertainment or working on a notebook it's over," declared analyst Steve Prentice.

Link: Say goodbye to the computer mouse.

The article goes on to quote an opposing view from Logitech but in a rather dismissive way ("Naturally enough those in the business of making mice are not wholly in agreement that the end is nigh.").

I think touch and gestures are great, and their use will continue to grow for appropriate applications, but there are some very good reasons that mice won't be going away any time soon.

The mouse is still the most efficient pointing device as measured by the standard test using the Fitts' Law paradigm (and it really is the standard test now as defined by the ISO). Mice generally perform a bit faster and more accurately than touchpads. Of course there is a lot of variability among devices and the technology is improving, but it's quite possible that the difference is due primarily to the fact that we use different muscles to move a mouse compared to moving a finger on a touchpad.

Touchpads are also difficult for some people to use because they require precise finger motion, and some people just plain don't like them. Portable mice for notebook computers are still very popular.

Touchscreens might beat mice in a Fitts' test comparison (I don't know offhand, though I'm sure somebody has done this test), but your arm will likely get tired using one for any length of time and you'll also take more time to move your hands from the keyboard to the screen and back."    (Continued via Touch Usability)    [Usability Resources]


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