Goodbye, keyboard. Here's how we'll soon control computers
Scrolling with your eyes. Adjusting the volume of music with a flick of the wrist. Even flying a drone with just a hand movement. It won't be long before the computer mouse is a thing of the past.
Just as the iPhone revolutionized touch interface, upcoming devices will have completely different forms of human-machine interaction, according to industry experts at CES.
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"As these devices come to market, we will need new ways to interact with them," said Stephen Lake, Thalmic Labs CEO and co-founder.
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"Down the road, all those new forms of computers, like Google Glass, will need a new kind of interface because we will want to be able to interact with devices," Lake said.
For example, Thalmic Labs has created an armband, called the Myo, that uses electrical activity in the wearer's muscles to control everything from a computer to smartphones to drones.
Other companies, including Leap Motion and Microsoft, are developing gesture-control products, but they generally work via a camera-based system, limiting a user's mobility. Myo lets a user move about freely.
Thalmic already has several partnerships with other companies that are building applications for its use. Consumer tech company Parrot, for example, has developed a consumer drone that could be controlled by the Myo. Lake declined to name other companies Thalmic is working with, but said some are in aerospace, robotics and 3D printing.
Look There...Now There It Is
Another emerging trend? Eye-tracking technology.
"Eye-tracking technology is already established in some specific markets," said Henrik Eskilsson, the CEO of Tobii Technology, which makes such systems. "It's already used frequently in advertising and marketing. But what we see now is eye-tracking technology take the plunge into the consumer mass market,"
Tobii, which makes money by selling the core technology as a platform and as a licensing business model to major manufacturers, is aiming to roll out to the consumer market this year.
The company has partnered with SteelSeries and has done concept prototypes with a number of vendors, including Lenovo.
"We've seen an explosion, an absolute explosion," Eskilsson said. "The automotive industry is also all over this because they have transformed the user interface in your car."
It remains to be seen what will stick as these new technologies make their way to the consumer market.
Ultimately, Lake said, the winners will probably combine different interfaces.
"As more and more functionality comes out, people will be more accepting to it," he said.
—By CNBC's Cadie Thompson. Follow her on Twitter