by Rebecca Rooy

My lug of a desktop computer is currently collecting dust in the basement. I have yet to muster the motivation to painfully haul it upstairs to at least extract the once-important documents that reside there. However, since I don’t need it for my immediate work, I tend to forget it exists. Why? The popularity and convenience of the laptop has changed my computer perspective. And to further cloud my judgment, the current configuration of the laptop as we know it is, too, becoming obsolete. We have adopted the “littler is better” philosophy when it comes to our gadgets.

Yet, these newfangled computers seem unmanageably small. The emerging problem behind the shrinking computers develops when this dwindling effect on the equipment begins to erode the keyboard. Fortunately, solutions for the premature problem have already surfaced. New computers that project the image of a keyboard onto any flat surface are newly retail-available. Users strike the keys exactly as they would using a tangible keyboard. Interestingly enough, the virtual keyboard produces the same clicking sound as the tangible keyboard, creating the same facade in customer comfort, similar to the clicking noise when one takes a picture with a digital camera. Similarly, the development of various prototypes of virtual projectors has begun to solve the problem of miniscule computer screens.

Perhaps, however, the keyboard itself will eventually become obsolete. NASA scientists are currently working on what they call “subvocal speech recognition.” This technology is a staggering upgrade to the new voice recognition technology. Electrodes positioned on one’s neck process the signals sent from the brain to the larynx. These electrodes process thought. And so far, through NASA’s tests, it works. Imagine what this Sci-Fi-like technology is producing!

Although the technology we depend upon is shrinking until it’s unusable, we are creating additional technology to competently interact in ways our bodies cannot. Fortunately, we are adjusting our Goliath-sized hands to our David-sized creations.

Rogers, Michael. “What Will Replace the Laptop?” 13 December 2006. 16 February 2007. <>.