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Language in the Future of Computing

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Web Sites Reviewed


Thesis Statement


The dominant methods of human computer interaction place several constraints in their communication producing undesired effects such as errors, and incorrect output. Natural language processing technology, as it is bettered, can rectify these problems and make computers more attractive to technophobes.


"Natural language processing will shape the way humans and computers interact in the future."


natural language processing, sentiment analysis, talking to robots, voice recognition, grammar, linguistics, sentence parsing, vocabulary, homonyms, multiple languages, machine learning, human-computing interaction, chat-bots, Google search, IBM Watson, Apple Siri, Semantics, text mining



Grand, Steven: The Creation

Pinker, Steven: The Language Instinct

Pinker, Steven: Words, Rules and their Meanings

Web Sites

Research Notes

Research Structure

Section 1: HIDs. Directionality of communication.======

Common HIDs: (Source:

  • Keyboards
  • Mice, Touchpads
  • Cameras
  • Fingerprint Scanners
  • Headsets

Less Common HIDs

  • Driving Simulator Devices
  • Wired gloves
  • Dance pads
  • Wii Remote
  • Surface computing devices
  • Section 2: Keyboards
  • Types of Keyboards
  • Issues with Keyboards
  • Keystroke Logging (wireless)
  • Physical Injury
  • Repetitive Strain Injury
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • vHealth Risks
  • Language
  • Standards
  • Size Constraints/Limited functions on mobile devices
  • Common Damage
  • Hick's Law

How can voice replacement software solve these problems

Section 3: Mice

  • Issues with Mice

Section 4: Competition for NLP

  • Touch Interfaces
  • Gesture/Motion Sensors

Section 5: Supplements for NLP

  • Augmented Reality

Research Notes


Computers have become a mainstay of Human lives, being involved in several of their activities, from their jobs, to communication, to entertainment. However a usage difficulty is still attached to them and technology in general, giving birth to self-categorizations such as technophobes and technophiles. This perceived difficultly lies not at the conceptual level, but at the specific human computer interaction level. The dominant devices that are used to accomplish these tasks today include Keyboards and Mice, among others. While these devices are cheap, and in wide use, they pose several problems, which can be eliminated with better technology.

The dominant methods of human computer interaction place several constraints in their communication producing undesired effects such as errors, and incorrect output. Natural language processing technology (hence abbreviated NLP), as it is bettered, can rectify these problems and make computers more attractive to technophobes.

Human Interface Devices Today

Human computer interaction is a complex process and requires different kinds of devices for different types of interactions. There are several specialized devices built just to accomplish this same task. However this method causes several problems, such as fragmentation, hardware costs, device dependence, training, and hence errors.

The following table shows the most common HIDs in use today, and their associated average cost.

HIDs (Widely Used)


HIDs (Specialized)




Specialized Single Purpose Devices


Pointing Devices (Mice/Touch based)


Wired Gloves




Dance Pads




Wii Remotes


Fingerprint Scanners




The most common place of these of course are Keyboards and Mice, which are now a standard issue with every personal computer. Each of these devices serves a separate function and neither can completely replace the other, setting back the average PC owner by $100 per purchase. Mice in general are portable, thanks to their size, and wireless mice are very popular today with Laptop like devices.

These two devices will be the key focus of comparison to NLP devices in this study, and are explored in detail in the sections below.



The earliest computers used typewriters (such as Teletype) as keyboards. They followed the QWERTY standard with some added keys such as 'Escape' and 'Control'. But as computers became more complex and needed more function keys, various manufacturers experimented with various new key layouts and models. Among those that did catch on at least for a while were the famous Dvorak, the Chorded, Thumbpads, Finger-Switch keyboards. None of these really made it to the mainstream, QWERY remained the ever popular. Manufacturers often make small changes to the layout to accommodate special keys specific to their machines, or otherwise sometimes for the form factor. Even today however, there are those that are passionate about Dvorak keyboards, and will use it and only it.

Types (?)

The fact that keyboards had to go through so many iterations only to end up with unsatisfactory results for so many suggests that perhaps these devices are not suited to all needs and people. In fact they carry a whole host of issues with them:

Security Issues

Keyboards are the primary form of textual input for any user. Thus any malicious software, such as keystroke loggers can record a user's strokes.

Health Risks

Keyboards are also said to expose their users to various health risks. They require a person to sit in a relatively constrained position for the entire duration of their usage. While this is alright in short doses, it can be fairly harmful in the long run. Additionally, people with back problems might not be able to use standard keyboards at all.

The required position of the hands can cause other problems as well, such as a Repetitive Strain Injury. Though the prevalence of this is known to be low, injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are associated with heavy Keyboard use. One study that monitored a thousand individuals for development of strain in the median nerve of the wrist found 4.8% of the participants reported a strain over a year. While this number is not alarming, one must consider the short time period used in the study.

Other risks have also been described with the use of public keyboards. Another study found that the average public Keyboard carries enough germs to be able to infect a person. Offices around the world do use disinfectants and cleaners on keyboards often, however in other settings such as University/College campuses, libraries, etc, these standards are not met.


Peter Buzing in his paper 'Comparing Different Keyboard Layouts' described five phases in the use of keyboards. These are:

Character Recognition: the phase during which the Human brain recognizes the key it must next hit

Storage Buffer: the phase during which the Human brain stores the key they have selected in their brain

Motor program: the program which searches/locates the key on the keyboard and prepares to hit it

Keystroke: the actual keystroke

Sensory Feedback: the phase in which the Human eye scans the screen and ensures that the correct key was printed.

These phases show that typing on a Keyboard can be a complex process which requires the user's full attention. Since this process is “learned” and not a natural human instinct such as speaking, it consumes the user's full attention.

Even despite the concentration that a user puts into the process, even experienced typers still produce errors.

Further, as Hick's Law predicts, an inexperienced user has a steep slope to climb before they can become efficient at Keyboard usage. Since an average keyboard offers its user 101 keys along with several secondary options (Ctrl and Fn options), it takes them a long time to realize the next key they have to hit.


Another problems that keyboard users face if switching between languages with ease. A physical keys can only carry so many printed characters. Some manufacturers provide sticker layouts for their keyboards such that one could layover their keys with a new character set, but this process is slow, and inefficient.

Other than this, keyboards also impose minimum size requirements on their manufacturers if they are to be usable. This becomes a much more serious problem on mobile devices. While some manufacturers such as RIM chooses to stick with thumb-pads, others are experimenting with on-screen and virtual keyboards.

Physical keyboards are also vulnerable to damage.




Error Production



Natural Language Processing has been described as the most complex problem that exists.


Current Incarnations

Android Voice Recognition, Apple SIRI, VLingo

IBM Watson

Electronic Phone Operators

Competitions for NLP

Touch Interfaces

Gesture/Motion Sensors

Supplements for NLP

Augmented Reality






Survey Questions


Projects Proposals

1) Natural Language Processing

  • There are several smaller ideas we could work on within this large topic such as:

2) Kinect/Move interaction?

3) Usability of Social Media Tools

  • How do organizations structure their tools to promote and increase user engagement
  • Psychological effects of Social Media and its pull on users