The Mouse Faces Extinction as Computer Interaction Evolves
wipe, swipe, pinch-zoom. Fifth-grader Josephine Nguyen is researching the definition of an adverb on her iPad and her fingers are flying across the screen. Her 20 classmates are hunched over their own tablets doing the same.
Conspicuously absent from this modern scene of high-tech learning: a mouse.
Nguyen, who is 10, said she has used one before — once — but the clunky desktop computer/monitor/keyboard/mouse setup was too much for her.
“It was slow,” she recalled, “and there were too many pieces.”
Gilbert Vasquez, 6, is also baffled by the idea of an external pointing device named after a rodent.
“I don’t know what that is,” he said with a shrug.
Nguyen and Vasquez, who attend public schools here, are part of the first generation growing up with a computer interface that is vastly different from the one the world has gotten used to since the dawn of the personal-computer era in the 1980s.
This fall, for the first time, sales of iPads are cannibalizing sales of PCs in schools, according to Charles Wolf, an analyst for the investment research firm Needham & Co. And a growing number of even more sophisticated technologies for communicating with your computer — such as the Leap Motion boxes and Sony Vaio laptops that read hand motions, as well as voice recognition services such as Apple’s Siri — are beginning to make headway in the commercial market.