The Connection, Inc Blog

The Connection, Inc has been serving the New Jersey area since 1992, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Use Technology to Transform Your Business

Use Technology to Transform Your Business

Sometimes it might feel like you can’t possibly take advantage of the same technologies as a large enterprise, but the reality is that the difference between the two has largely diminished thanks to changes in business technology models and design philosophies. Simply put, there are technologies out there that let you compete with organizations you may not have been able to in the past, and if you can track your analytics, provide a quality service or experience to your customers, and implement the right technology solutions, you are on the right track.

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Innovative Tools You Might Just See in the Workplace Before Long

Innovative Tools You Might Just See in the Workplace Before Long

There is so much technology to choose from for your business that it can be overwhelming to pick the right tools for your specific circumstances. There are communication tools, productivity solutions, and even mobile options that can enhance and enrich your clients’ and employees’ experiences with your company. As a business owner, you must do all that you can to keep the future in mind when implementing innovative new technology solutions to fit the needs of your organization.

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Is Virtual Reality an Option for Your Business?

Is Virtual Reality an Option for Your Business?

Virtual reality has been one of the coolest technologies available for over a decade. Today’s applications make it an exciting piece of tech for individuals; and you’ve seen that market expand (especially during the pandemic) with Facebook, Sony, HTC, and HP coming to market with a VR offering. The question we wanted to look at is how VR could be used at a business like yours.

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Artificial Intelligence Has Negatives and Positives

Artificial Intelligence Has Negatives and Positives

Artificial intelligence has always been an intriguing concept, from the works of Isaac Asimov to the initial work at Dartmouth College in the 1950s. Nowadays, many of the technologies that we rely on each day incorporate some version of artificial intelligence… and more progress is made each day. Of course, for all its benefits, artificial intelligence can also create some problems for businesses.

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What Exactly is an NFT?

What Exactly is an NFT?

With the ongoing fascination with cryptoassets that started with the cryptocurrency boom, the term “NFT'' has popped up again and again in the headlines. We wanted to help provide some clarity into what an NFT actually is, and why they have been such a big deal as of late.

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What You Need to Know About the Internet of Things

What You Need to Know About the Internet of Things

In today’s ever-connected world, many devices are capable of utilizing an Internet connection to share and access information, including some rather unorthodox ones. All of these devices contribute to the greater collective which is referred to as the Internet of Things. While this type of unprecedented connectivity can be a great boon for businesses, it also represents great risks for business owners who do not take it seriously.

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Considerations That You Need to Make When Adding New Technologies

Considerations That You Need to Make When Adding New Technologies

It’s no secret that new technology can be useful for a business, unfortunately too many businesses struggle with their technology implementations. When adding new tools to your business, you will need to understand that the more deliberate you are, the more success you will find. Rushing any new deployment is sure to have some types of issues. For today’s blog, we take you through some of the best practices of adding new technology to your business.

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3 Ways Your Small Business Might Benefit from Artificial Intelligence Technology

3 Ways Your Small Business Might Benefit from Artificial Intelligence Technology

Artificial intelligence has taken the world by storm, and the advent of emerging technologies has many small businesses thinking about how they can utilize it to cut costs, improve operations, and eliminate unnecessary or repetitive tasks. Let’s take a look at three ways your business can leverage artificial intelligence to the best of its ability.

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Taking a Look at the IT That Fuels NASA’s Success

Taking a Look at the IT That Fuels NASA’s Success

Perseverance recently paid off, with the successful touchdown of the so-named Mars rover. In light of this, let’s consider a past rover launch and how a technical issue it encountered provides a case study for anyone whose business relies on technology.

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Significant IT Challenges for 2021

Significant IT Challenges for 2021

2020 was… well, 2020… so it really isn’t any surprise that those businesses that made it to 2021 aren’t quite out of the woods yet. The many difficulties and challenges that 2020 brought will carry over into this year, many of them pertaining to information technology and how businesses utilize it. Let’s take a few moments to anticipate how these IT challenges will manifest this year.

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CES Goes Virtual: A Look at Some Noteworthy Tech

CES Goes Virtual: A Look at Some Noteworthy Tech

The annual Consumer Electronics Show is one of the best looks at some of the best consumer technology that is coming down the pipeline over the next couple of years. Most of the technology won’t be readily available for a few years, and a lot of it may not even come to market, but one aspect of the event that is interesting is that for the first time it is completely virtual.

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How to Ensure Your IT Resilience

How to Ensure Your IT Resilience

How confident are you that your business could survive a data disaster of any size and scale, from a single misplaced file to a complete loss of your entire onsite infrastructure? Being prepared to recover from any version of events is key to your business’ success. Let’s discuss this concept, which is widely known as IT resilience.

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Smartphone Addiction and Its Effects

Smartphone Addiction and Its Effects

Nowadays, most of us use smartphones; and, yes, probably most of us use them more than is healthy. There are those, however, that have come to depend on their mobile device so much that it completely dominates their lives. As people become even more attached to their phone, the impact this behavior has on their lives becomes more and more detrimental. 

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Why You Need to Consider How Your Data is Stored

Why You Need to Consider How Your Data is Stored

If you have a computer, it has data on it that you’ve stored. Whether it’s the novel you’ve been working on in your spare time or pictures from your kid’s sixth grade graduation on your home PC, or the databases and applications that your business’ infrastructure supports, all of this data is generally stored in exactly the same way. Whatever your case, you should know that your data is terrifyingly fragile - far too fragile to ever be kept in just one place. Let’s dive deeper.

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Why We’re Just Waiting for Break/Fix IT Services to Go Away

Why We’re Just Waiting for Break/Fix IT Services to Go Away

As much as we hate to admit it, the first thing that many people still think of when they hear the term “tech support” is the experience that comes with an antiquated approach to technology services: the break/fix method. Fortunately for us, we are seeing many businesses make the better decision, and turn to the clearly superior option, managed IT.


Therefore, as a managed service provider, we know that all we have to do is wait.

The Inherent Issues with Break/Fix Services

When business computing really took off in the 1970s, break/fix IT made sense. Businesses were able to deploy standalone microcomputers or distributed mid-range server systems that operated through remote terminals. Then, in the ‘80s, the personal computer combined the benefits of the two, and really highlighted the benefits that computers could offer a business. When Windows 3.1 was introduced to business users in the 1990s, the computer’s place in business was cemented in forever.

For all this time, computers would have their issues… but it just didn’t make sense to call in for repairs or put an internal IT team on it. If it could still operate somewhat, that was good enough. Should the computer break down completely, IT was brought in to fix it.

So, Were Break-Fix Services Once Okay?

Yes and no. Of course, this situation has always presented all the issues that have led many businesses away from the break/fix strategy today. For instance:

  • IT costs could quickly stack up (and up, and up, and up) for a few reasons.
    • Recurring issues mean return visits, which mean additional costs.
    • Recurring issues can occasionally motivate insufficient repairs, to ensure repeat business.
    • Longer visits mean more billable time, and more money spent by companies.
  • Final IT costs are only clear on the final invoice, preventing accurate IT budgeting.
  • It discourages providers from upgrading technology or considering future needs. 

So, break-fix services were unpredictably expensive, and generally prevented any innovation or future planning for the client’s benefit, so issues had the tendency to repeatedly return. However, it wasn’t as though there was another option to compare it to at the time, either.

That option came around in the mid ‘90s, when the amount of technology in the office and its overall complexity increased greatly, with the introduction of fax machines, printers, and other hardware. Computers took much longer to repair when broken. The Internet exploded in popularity, adding an additional element of complexity.

A New Paradigm Emerges: Managed IT

This all meant that break/fix services soon became too inefficient to support businesses properly. Computers were no longer a convenience, but a legitimate necessity in the office, not to mention the other tools and devices that became key components to their processes. Downtime had evolved into something potentially devastating for operations, and expenses ran rampant.

As the new millennium came along, the modern managed service model was brought to the fore. This was thanks to an assortment of developments in information technology, including improved Internet, cloud technology, and automation. Using these tools, some IT providers saw a new opportunity and shifted how their services were delivered.

Gone were the days of waiting for operations to be in jeopardy before doing something about it. 

Now, IT providers have the capability to remotely access and monitor a client’s network from afar, allowing them to more efficiently identify potential issues and mitigate them at effectively all hours—often, before a client ever encounters an issue. The biggest change, however, was how this approach was able to impact the way that managed service providers were able to charge for their services.

Rather than charging at an hourly rate, the nature of the service allowed it to be billed at a very inclusive monthly rate. This simplified matters for the client, as a set-rate service is far easier to budget for. As an added benefit, this also motivated those providers who made the switch from the flawed break/fix approach to deliver a better service to those who signed on to their services.

Service Options Today

With managed services having been around and innovated upon for about two decades, there are even more opportunities for businesses to improve their processes and achieve greater goals. Break/fix is still around, too, but more and more businesses are seeing the comparative benefits of the managed service model and making the decision to switch. Managed services are a source of confidence. You no longer need to be concerned that your technology will bring issues into your business, because someone is there to take care of it for you.

Every so often, a new method is introduced that changes a foundational paradigm. Despite the relatively short time frame that business IT has been around for, managed services did just that… and therefore, break/fix services will eventually be—for all intents and purposes—phased out.

If you want to keep up with all the methods that will improve your business’ operations, reach out to The Connection, Inc at (732) 291-5938 today!

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Tech Giants Are in on AR

Tech Giants Are in on AR

Augmented reality has been one of the most cited emerging technologies for the past few years. It was the technology that was supposed to fuel Google Glass, the failed attempt at creating a pair of revolutionary smart glasses. Since then, there hasn’t been much press about AR in the mainstream media and not much is known about major tech companies’ attempts to improve AR technology. 

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Technology Concerns Heading Into 2020

Technology Concerns Heading Into 2020

For most businesses, technology has a major role in what they do. They use it in all manners of ways, but there is no question that it has become a driving force for business. As the calendar flips to a new decade, we thought that it would be good to take a look at what the 2010s brought us, and what to expect in the 2020s. 


2010: A Decade of Innovation

The 2010s saw the expansion and innovation of technologies and devices that came about after the turn of the century, as well as the new technologies that will see improvements themselves moving forward. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest technologies that came to market in the 2010s:

4G

Technically released in 2009 but deployed over the first few years of the past decade, 4G wireless changed what was capable for wireless data transmission. This had a hand in changing several technologies and forced innovations with others. Companies that depended on app deployment and real-time technologies suddenly became much more viable. The 2010s saw the launch of some of the biggest names in mobile computing: Spotify, Uber, Instagram, Snapchat, and many more. None of these companies would have been able to take the world by storm without 4G wireless. 

Apple iPad

It’s hard to believe that it has only been 10 years since the introduction of the iPad.  The first--and for the first couple of years, only--true mass-produced consumer tablet computer, it was quickly emulated by a number of manufacturers. Having a large display, and working on Apple’s iOS, the iPad ushered in the tablet boom. After initial sales of tablet computers were through the roof, the touchscreen technology has settled into a useful device for both individuals and businesses.

IPv6

The sixth version of the networking standard went live in June of 2012, upgrading wireless networking that had been in place for years. The new standard improved networking for a new era of connectivity as well as the rapid growth of the number of devices that soon would need to be connected to the Internet. 

Chromecast

Google released their first Chromecast in 2013 and it changed the way people were able to view all the new streaming content that was being unleashed. The technology is now integrated into a lot of televisions that you find on the market today, but at the time, it was a revolutionary technology. Businesses can use it to share presentations in conference rooms without a massive expense.

The Virtual Assistant

Apple has Siri. Amazon has Alexa. Microsoft has Cortana. Samsung has Bixby. Google has Google Assistant. The virtual assistant not only is an increasingly useful software, it also got many of the biggest players in tech competing against one another to develop the most useful features. This invention has improved machine learning exponentially and continues to push the innovation that has come to define these iconic brands.

USB-C

If you want one technology that is never mentioned as essential but has been a complete game changer it is USB type C connector. It is now the industry standard (except on Apple devices) for data transmission and power and can be found on a majority of devices manufactured after 2015. 

Windows 10

With Microsoft’s mobile division fledgling, and their “metro” Windows 8.1 OS not replacing the aging Windows 7 OS, Microsoft developed Windows 10 to modernize and standardize the Windows experience. Now, firmly in place, it currently runs on over 64 percent of all PCs in the world and is sure to grow as Microsoft retires Windows 7.

2020: The Decade of Things

Many people might consider the 2010s the decade of things, but rest assured, the 2020s will be the first decade where all these Internet-connected devices have the functionality, integrations, and most importantly the security needed to actually be viable tools. This is for the same reason mobile technology took off this decade: improvements to wireless networks.

The truth is that we’ve just scratched the surface of what is possible. The immediate future is going to introduce us to things that seemed like science fiction just 20 or 30 years ago. Let’s take a look at some of the technologies that we will see developed over the next 10 years:

5G

The new wireless standard, 5G, will be rolling out over the next few years and it's going to signal a major shift in the way that people use technology. Today, the data demands on networks are massive and rising fast. With 5G there is a legitimate hope that it will bring ubiquitous wireless connectivity that is no longer broadcast from macrocell sites that cover neighborhoods, but smaller more mobile broadcast sites that bring high speed, synchronized connectivity to each user. With the limited amount of 5G users already seeing gigabit speeds, 5G is sure to revolutionize the way we use technology. 

Artificial Intelligence

While you shouldn’t expect sentient androids, the deployment of artificial intelligence will increase substantially over the next decade. Neural networks that are already being used to recognize patterns in data to automate simple processes will benefit exponentially from the huge amount of data they will be exposed to. This will allow them to solve more complex problems and be used in more dynamic applications.

The Internet of Things

As was stated above, the 2020s will be the decade of things. All those things that now connect to the Internet will finally have the wireless capabilities to be a massive benefit to society. You will begin to see smart cities developed that use AI to run essential services efficiently and cut down waste. You will see driverless cars make the roadways safer and give more people better opportunities. The things will improve crucial systems in healthcare, infrastructure, and finance. 

Mixed Reality

The future will be filled with immersive experiences fueled by mixed reality. Eventually, MR is viewed as an eventual replacement to the mobile platforms we all have come to depend on. MR will reduce data strains by providing interactive and real-time overlays for all types of applications. Entertainment, social interaction, and education could be completely revolutionized as this technology is developed. 

The technology that fuels the world is sure to change in the next decade as it did in the previous one. What technology would you like to see developed in the immediate future? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Does Tech in School Fill Up the Honor Roll or Seats in Detention?

Does Tech in School Fill Up the Honor Roll or Seats in Detention?

We typically use this blog to share information about the technology that a business should be leveraging - but in this blog, we’ve decided to focus on a different group that is increasingly reliant on technology: students. As these pupils will someday make up the workforce and almost certainly utilize technology on a daily basis, it is important that their education reflects this increase in their curriculums. Here, we’ll consider some of the effects (good and bad) that this has had.


How Has Education Benefited from Technology Use?

Frankly, it would take too long to really get into all of the different ways that technology has given the classroom a boost. From those devices that have replaced (if you’ll pardon the expression) old-school solutions to the near-ubiquitous access that students have to tools that could be used for learning thanks to their mobile devices, technology has taken a leading role in education. Smart displays are replacing chalkboards, and students are more and more frequently supplied with laptops to support their learning.

Teachers have used their access to this technology to enrich their students’ learning experience, connecting with classrooms around the world to allow their students some time to interact with other cultures. These students have been shown to overcome language barriers to share what makes them similar to one another. This is just one way that cooperation and collaboration have helped to generate educational breakthroughs.

More examples of technology’s benefits to the educational process were shared on an episode of the EdSurge on Air Podcast, delivered through anecdotes and classroom stories. Mimi Kasner was one educator who shared a few stories. One was about a young girl who was having a considerably difficult time learning to read and write through the traditional approach. However, when she was introduced to a website that taught the alphabet, she excelled - much to her delight. When Kasner was made a principal of a school, she experienced another inspirational moment. During a fire drill, a few teachers approached her and informed her that the students wanted the time that the fire drill took up back, so they could continue to work on their self-managed projects that the drill interrupted.

The 'overcoming language barriers' example we referenced earlier wasn't hypothetical! According to education technology coordinator Sam Jordan of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, Skype was used in the classroom to connect Alaskan students with Sri Lankan students, where the two groups were able to communicate and teach one another about themselves and how they were similar - again, with nothing to remedy the language barrier between them.

By nurturing a thirst for knowledge and an openness to educational experiences, a school can live up to businessman Richard Livingstone’s criteria for educational success:

“If the school sends out children with a desire for knowledge and some idea of how to acquire and use it, it will have done its work.”

Another benefit that technology offers is how interactive lessons can now become through a “gamification” approach. Look at it through the eyes of an energetic 10-year-old… would you rather sit and listen politely as the teacher reads at you from a book (probably published when your parents were still in school), or play a game where you pretend to be an important historical figure and role-play the events your character had a part in? Today’s technology makes these kinds of activities easier to manage - and since technology can be updated, it is much easier to keep up on the latest lessons.

Of course, today’s technology also benefits the person standing at the head of the class. Teachers have found that the advanced solutions available to them can greatly simplify things in the classroom, allowing for more assistance to be given to students. Take Jill Watson, a teacher’s assistant who can answer questions students have about classroom policies, and who just so happens to be an artificial intelligence. Think about how much time could be better spent actually teaching students and assisting them in processing the lessons, if educators weren’t constantly being interrupted by bathroom requests and “Where can I find…?” inquiries. Much like a real teacher’s assistant, Jill Watson would also know to pass along any questions that were beyond her scope to the teacher.

Whether you consider the improvements to the learning process that can be made, or how much more accessible alternative styles of educating can become, it only becomes more clear that technology could quickly become as ubiquitous to the learning process as a blackboard, or a textbook, or a homework assignment have been for decades. That being said, there are some concerns that have come up regarding how technology might also hinder actual learning.

How Technology Can Be an Educational Detriment

Unfortunately, we aren’t talking about a few hypothetical situations. Actual events have also proven that technology could do some damage to the educational process.

Most obvious among the potential issues of bringing technology into the classroom is the clear risk of it serving more as a distraction than an educational supplement. A survey of 500 people affiliated with the University of Waterloo indicated that almost half of this group found technology to be a distraction, 68 percent of teachers surveyed expressing their frustration at the use of cell phones in class. Another study showed a link between lower test scores and the use of technology.

It gets worse than just being a distraction. Naturally, students have come up with some very clever ways of using technology to help them cheat. Smartphones have been deemed responsible for instances of cheating in the United Kingdom going up, as they did by 25 percent in 2017 and 26 percent in 2018. For another example of “CheatTech”, some schools in the UK have suggested banning watches - not even just smartwatches, but all watches - from examination rooms. Why? Simple - it has become too hard to tell the difference between the two.

Across the pond, students in the United States have adopted the use of hidden earbuds to listen to information stored in their phones (which are “safely” stowed away during the test). Students from Thailand and Singapore would use a combination of gadgets to cheat. One would walk into the exam wearing a pair of honest-to-goodness spy glasses, transmitting the exam questions to an accomplice on the outside. This accomplice would look up the answer and message it to the test-taker, whose smartwatch would display the message. In China, students have been caught trying to cheat college entrance exams by using false fingerprints. Someone could be hired to take the test on their behalf, “their” identity confirmed by their fingerprints.

Examples like these beg the question: could the ingenuity that these cheats require be a better indicator of a student’s intelligence than a written exam could ever be?

Whether you’re for or against the use of technology as an educational tool, it seems to be the way that things are done - just as in most industries today. However, we’d still like to know what you think about all this… is technology something that schools and educational systems should embrace, or is it all just a way to make the same lessons more expensive to teach? Does a child using technology to learn today really help prepare them for when they will need to use technology to work?

We have a comments section waiting for your input! Please feel free to start a few discussions.

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Let’s Take a Look at 50 Years of the Internet

Let’s Take a Look at 50 Years of the Internet

Without a doubt, the Internet is one of humanity's most impressive inventions. 50 years ago, the predecessor to the Internet that most of the world depends on, called ARPANET, was launched. Today, we will talk about how that innovation turned into the Internet, and reorganized the way people interacted with computing systems. 


Development of ARPANET

In the mid-1960s the United States was firmly in the throes of the Cold War. The U.S. Department of Defense was attempting to find a way to communicate clandestinely. For this purpose they created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). A scientist named Joseph Lickliter convinced the DoD to fund a network of connected computers through the country so that engineers and intellectuals from several colleges could collaborate on projects together, effectively making progress a priority. This network was finished in 1969 and was called ARPANET. It is the precursor of the modern-day Internet.

Over the next couple of decades there were major innovations to this network, many of which are the basis for much of the shared computing we have today. One of those innovations is called packet-switching. Packet-switching allows the computer you are using to connect to several other computers at once by sending individual packets of information through the wires. This provides users the ability to quickly get information that would be impossible through circuit switching, the technology that was used prior to the development of ARPANET.

As the network got bigger, the ARPANET engineers had to scrap the system because with packet-switching, each user would have to keep an updated address list in order to properly send and receive messages. This was not feasible with the technology at the time so they decided that Stanford University (who was a founding member of ARPANET) would be the safekeeper for all of the updated addresses on ARPANET in 1973.

By 1977, ARPANET had over 100 computers connected to it; and, with the age of personal computing right around the corner, major changes were on the horizon. Other computing networks started to pop up, but with no continuity between them, communications became a headache for users. This was remedied early in the 1980s with the standardization of sending packets through the TCP/IP protocol.  TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) is where the modern term Internet first comes up. We still use this protocol today, making the Internet possible. 

ARPANET, realizing that by connecting networks together using TCP/IP they would soon have a problem with too many users to manage. This problem was solved with the establishment of the Domain Name System (DNS). They split the system into domains. The top-level domains (.com, .edu, etc.) established what type of organization you were sending the packet to. Within these domains a second-level domain, provided the organization’s host (such as gmail.com, ucla.edu, etc.) so computers would tell where to specifically send messages. The establishment of the DNS Server would change computing more than any other for decades. 

The Modern Day Internet

In the late 1980s the U.S. Department of Defense was looking to shut down ARPANET as they believed they it had served its purpose. It was handed off to NSFNET in 1990, shortly after the first Internet Service Provider, The World, opened in Boston, Massachusetts, effectively introducing the general public to the Internet. It wasn’t until 1992, when congress passed a law allowing commercial traffic on the Internet when, the boom really started. 

As we all know now, the Internet, which was developed for research and messaging, was soon being used by individuals for those purposes and more. Companies started to look into the applications of selling and advertising products online. Since access was limited at first, the Internet was not looked at as a major commercial hub for companies. This soon changed, however; and, today, every business has some sort of Internet profile. 

Today, the United Nations looks on Internet service as a fundamental human right, which is a long way from four connected computers on a single network in 1969. Would you like to read more stories about the history of technology? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below or call us today at (732) 291-5938 with your recommendations. 

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What Could Replace the Keyboard and Mouse?

What Could Replace the Keyboard and Mouse?

We hope we aren’t dating ourselves too much by mentioning computer punch cards, but they were once the means of inputting data into a computing device… at least, until the now-ubiquitous mouse and keyboard came into the scene. This variety of interfacing with our devices now seems to be one of the few ways to practically use them. However, other interfaces have emerged - do any of them stand a chance of unseating the keyboard and mouse?

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