Text and gesture in our future

I participated in a rousing discussion today about the future of gestural interfaces. One thing that was pointed out during the conversation — something I had not really fully absorbed before — is that with all the enhanced focus on innovations in gesture on the iPhone, iPad, WiiMote, Kinect and other devices, younger folks are actually using text far more than ever before.

It’s not that these new swipe, pinch and wave devices aren’t getting a real workout. Indeed they are. It’s more that among young people the telephone is becoming less of a medium for talking than a medium for texting.

This is perhaps an inevitable consequence of increased mobility combined with merging of telephone and internet. Younger people are multitasking on the go, keeping up simultaneous conversations while going about their daily lives. The consequent high level of continual context switching is something that simply cannot be done through voice.

We may very well continue to develop ever more exciting and innovative ways to use gesture to control our technology. But when it comes to communicating with each other, it seems the future may very well belong to good old fashioned text.

4 Responses to “Text and gesture in our future”

  1. Sharon says:

    Interestingly, I notice that my teenager is much more willing to use video chats than audio-only telephone conversations, which she considers awkward. Still, multiple streams of text-based chats and sms are her most prevalent forms of remote communication. Not only does it make concurrency easier, as you mention, but also it is relatively silent, so others can’t eavesdrop on the conversations when she is not alone.

  2. manooh says:

    I recently bought a shiny new Android phone – a much more powerful computer than the laptop I used until early this year. So yesterday I wanted to call a number. I didn’t want to add that number as a contact, I just wanted to type a number and hit the green button. That task turned out to be incredibly hard to figure out, even a handful of tech-savvy colleagues couldn’t help me. I had to do a Google search to understand my phone’s user interface.

    So no, today’s “phones” are certainly not optimized for calling people :-)

  3. admin says:

    You were trying to use your mobile phone to talk to somebody??? Oh my, how terribly 2010 of you. 😉

  4. manooh says:

    I *know*!! 😀

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