In an interview with the BBC, Steven Prentice, analyst for the information technology research and advisory firm Gartner, says that the mouse will largely be replaced with other means of interface within the next five years. The mouse’s place will be taken by technology developed for entertainment, video games, and computer access for the disabled. "You've got Panasonic showing forward facing video in the home entertainment environment. Instead of using a conventional remote control you hold up your hand and it recognises you have done that," Prentice says in the


"You even have emotive systems where you can wear a headset and control a computer by simply thinking and that's a device set to hit the market in September." Emotiv has created headsets that read users’ neural activity for gaming. These $299 controls can control movement and actions, as well be used to express simple emotions.

Other possibilities include eye tracking and touch screen technology. Eye tracking works by bouncing infrared light off the eye: users can open and close documents by blinking their eyes, for example, or choose which hyperlink to open by staring at it. Tobii has developed an eye-tracking system that can already control Windows XP and replace the mouse for movement in FPS games.

The touch screen is probably the mouse-killer closest to be mainstreamed, having already proven very successful in the iPhone, the Nintendo DS, tablet PCs, as well as myriad public information terminals and ATMs. Microsoft’s Surface’s multi-touch input screen allows users to manipulate more on-screen things at a time than possible with a mouse, and it can also interface with other digital devices without a USB, simply by placing them on top of the screen.

"This" Mr Prentice said, "is all about using computer power to do things smarter."

Though these new things might be expensive in the beginning, remember that the first marketed integrated mouse was shipped in 1981 as a part of a computer, the Xerox 8010 Star Information System. The computer cost $16,000.

(Image: BBC)

By Mark Alvarez