Perceptual Computing

What Does Perceptual Computing Mean?

Perceptual computing is a new and somewhat confusing term in IT. The common definition of perceptual computing is a general advancement in technology where computers are better able to sense or analyze the environment around them and respond accordingly. Perceptual computing has a lot of potential to change the end-user interfaces through which humans interact with computers.

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Techopedia Explains Perceptual Computing

One of the confusing elements of perceptual computing is that, while many of the companies developing perceptual computing technologies define it as a kind of sensory environment for computers and an interface-changing phenomenon, some top sites such as Wikipedia define ‘perceptual computing’ as the particular product of an Azerbaijani scientist named Zadeh, who worked on building linguistic interfaces using fuzzy sets.

Again, although this type of research could be described as perceptual computing, a more common definition involves sensory interfaces. For example, experts believe that perceptual computing will soon change the workstations and peripherals that we use, the mouse, keyboard and a laptop screen, replacing them with workstations where people can talk, make gestures and input commands to the computer in a natural, sensory way, rather than through the manipulation of a mouse or keys.

Mobile devices have already done some of this with gesture-based touchscreen commands. Experts anticipate that new sensory commands will be removed from a touchscreen. In other words, the computer would see human gestures and interpret them for command input. This is just one part of how perceptual computing will change our use of computers and untether us from some physical aspects of our traditional workstations.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.