People will be using multi-touch devices such as the iPad and other media tablets, rather than a keyboard and mouse, as a pervasive computing device, according to Gartner.
In the Gartner special report, iPad and Beyond: What the future of computing holds, Gartner predicts media tablets are changing what users will expect from their computing devices.
"During the next five to 10 years, modular designs will enable tablets to take on new functions, becoming the cross-platform controller and brain for hybrid consumer electronics and computers," said Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner. "Tablets will be substitutes for several of the electronic devices consumers often carry with them. Thin and light mobile PCs with tablet-like features will become mainstream, pushing out some bulkier PC styles that have been the norm."
Makers of PCs and consumer electronics are noticing the shift in consumer expectations and are incorporating features popularised by the iPad into new products. Multi-touch technology has become the de facto interface of high-end smartphones and media tablets, and will extend to additional consumer electronic devices and to PCs.
McIntyre said tablets could replace multiple dedicated devices, such as replacing in-car navigation and entertainment systems, a home health monitor and digital signage.
"Alternative user interfaces, such as multi-touch, are essential for extending the deployment of computing devices into new markets," McIntyre said. "Smartphones, tablets and tablet hybrids will become the first pathway to the internet for many. The keyboard on PCs is a major barrier."