Mooly Eden, the Intel senior vice president who oversees the company's "perceptual computing" operations, told CNET today that voice recognition will do to touch what touch has done to physical keyboards -- making many things unnecessary.
"Voice is the best means of communication between humans," Eden said. "We finally have enough compute power to do what we want from science fiction."
Intel is working with partners on complete systems for such devices, including the hardware (run by an Intel processor, of course), software, cameras, and other features. It's still early days, Eden said, but voice, for example, could overtake touch in as little as three to five years.
Eden demoed features like an eye-tracking "Where's Waldo" game (the camera knows exactly where the eyes are focused) and other games that follow hands and let them do things like pick up and drop virtual objects.
Other possibilities in the future include computers that can perform real-time translation when two people are speaking, as well as movies that change plot based on where the eyes are moving. For example, if someone looks away every time there's blood, the movie may adjust to include less gore.
"Everything is going to be immersive," Eden said. "I'd like you to work with the computer the same way you work with me.... I want you to say 'I'm not ashamed that I love my computer.'"
"Imagine how many people who are afraid of computers will be able to use them," he added.