The underside of a Logitech computer mouse. Photo via commons.wikimedia.org
Technology moves fast during the course of one lifetime.
Douglas Engelbart died recently at age 88.
He was a highly regarded researcher and had a major influence on your life — even though you might've been unaware of his touch.
Mr. Engelbart was the inventor of the computer mouse.
Mr. Engelbart’s grand invention marshaled in a new era of human-to-computer interaction that re-defined the way we look at computers.
The thought that you could move a device and, in turn, cause movement on the screen was bold and revolutionary thinking at the time.
His creation opened up new possibilities of how we could express thoughts on that screen in front of us, and the mouse became an icon in the developed world for personal computing.
The ripple effects of new thinking on the boundaries of human-to-computer interaction continue to this day.
Despite the eventual worldwide scope of his innovation, Mr. Englebart’s original invention will largely have faded away in another generation or so.
Our era of the mouse will be a limited generational footnote on the computing-evolution timeline.
The alternatives to mouse-based interaction already abound today.
Touch and voice
Our new world of mobile devices is fostering a generation that thinks of interacting with their computer in terms of touch screens and voice commands.
Just as my grandparents did not grow up with a mouse at hand, I'm confident that someday when I have grandchildren, they will never know the experience, either — except perhaps at museums.
New possibilities ushered in and inspired by the mouse couldn’t be imagined at the time of its birth.
Transcending the power of mouse, touch and voice interaction is the power to control a computer screen with corresponding movement on your eyes or, alternatively, with thoughts in your brain.
Eye and brain
Eye and brain control of computers are already proven technologies today, although carried out in fairly specialized settings.
These new approaches often even easier and more intuitive computer-control mechanisms than touch, voice, and the old wrist wrenching mouse movement.
What is the analogy we can take back to the business world?
Technology change marches on in ways that are unimaginable a generation or two earlier. One change inspires another and another.
Integrating technology in your business can happen in similar fashion.
Technology you adopt today can lead you around corners ahead that bring even more possibilities. This adds great challenge, but also great opportunity for continual improvement in your business.
The pace of technology evolution isn't slowing.
Flex your wrists, roll your eyes, and look ahead.