Microsoft is Developing a Gesture-Controlled Keyboard

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One of the many perks of using a laptop is having gesture controls on your keyboard. The lack of having a mouse connected to the computer has led to innovations that essentially make it obsolete for laptop users. Simple gestures across the trackpad allow you to perform actions that would typically require a mouse on a desktop PC. Tapping to zoom, pressing to click, and swiping to navigate is not only easy, it’s intuitive. And up until now it hasn’t been possible on a desktop computer (without actually adding a separate trackpad).

Microsoft is currently experimenting with new technology that combines popular trackpad gestures on desktop keyboards. The prototype, called “Type-Hover-Swipe,” is an augmented mechanical keyboard that senses motion performed on and directly above the keys. The proximity sensors are cleverly hidden within the keys themselves and allow for rich and expressive motion gestures. With a total of 64 sensors, the keyboard has an ultra-fast refresh rate of 300Hz and has no problem tracking rapid hand movements. With this keyboard connected to your computer, you may never need to use a mouse again.

Recently, Microsoft presented a research paper entitled “Type-Hover-Sype in 96 Bytes: A Motion Sensing Mechanical Keyboard” at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. The research project was met with much praise and ended up winning the “Best Paper Award.” In their presentation, they showed just how effortlessly it is to do common tasks, like switching between programs, scrolling, panning, zooming, and even playing games. Microsoft hasn’t indicated whether this keyboard will go into production or not, but it’s clearly an impressive look into what’s possible. A mouse-less computer could very well be the next great innovation in computing.

The traditional keyboard and mouse setup has been in place since the 1960s. Although it works perfectly fine, there’s no denying this is an antiquated system. A gesture-controlled keyboard could propel PCs into the next generation of computing. Should there be any difference in the way we use our phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops? A fused method of computing seems like it would be the easiest and most natural way to use these devices, but will it catch on?

What do you think? Will you adopt a mouse-less keyboard? Let us know in the comments below.

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10 Responses to Microsoft is Developing a Gesture-Controlled Keyboard

  1. Christopher Sarka April 29, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    Mmmmm. Feel like I’m using Opera 10 years ago all over again.

  2. Gage Thomas Holland April 29, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    Looks like more work than what is necessary for a minuscule task. The typical setup of a keyboard and mouse is very versatile and allows a lot to be done quickly. I would love to see customizable gestures used as shortcuts to perform tasks. An example of this would be making a small gesture to open/close program(s) quickly that are off-screen.

  3. Don Hansen April 29, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    This is going to be revolutionary. Imagine what a single cat could do by lying on top of it? Needs a keyboard heater to maximize cat attraction.

  4. Rob Michael April 29, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    If I can write a Word Document or Excel file with this without ever using a mouse, that would be perfect.

  5. Lucien Greathouse April 29, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    Did we ever need a mouse for anything anyway? I could navigate from my Windows desktop all the way to this page and make this comment without ever touching my mouse because keyboard shortcuts exist. I understand that people are super excited about “getting rid of the mouse” but it’s something that people have been doing since the keyboard was a thing.

    • Grammar Nazi April 30, 2014 at 9:15 am #

      And if you are using Google Chrome, you need to use the mouse even less.

  6. Jon Miller April 30, 2014 at 1:49 am #

    I don’t think any “keyboard and mouse replacement” is a viable vision, but think of the things this keyboard could do for PC games.

  7. Grammar Nazi April 30, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    For a racing/roleplaying/action game? Maybe. A FPS would become nigh-unplayable.

  8. nate May 1, 2014 at 7:49 am #

    Hillariously stupid

    SwiftKey Flow Hard: http://youtu.be/-QfhTWJIDCM

  9. Me May 2, 2014 at 9:36 pm #

    I would much rather keep my mouse, it makes some tasks a bit easier. As for the gestures on a keyboard, with touchscreens available why do you need a keyboard that you can gesture over?

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