No more mouse: Microsoft Research invents Leap-like gesture keyboard

Microsoft Research’s intuitive designers have developed an augmented reality mechanical keyboard – or more concisely, a keyboard with touch and gesture ability.

The “Type-Hover-Swipe” project integrates “a low-resolution matrix of infrared (IR) proximity sensors” dotted among a set of a standard qwerty keys. Not only does this keyboard allow the user to type (or what you’d traditionally expect from a keyboard), it also gives the user the power of gesture and touch commands, much like Microsoft Surface 2’s interface or the Xbox Kinect system.

By gently caressing the keyboard or waving a hand above it, the user can change between text boxes, pinch to zoom, scroll the page as if using a mouse wheel, or more impressively, play games. The video demonstrates how an imaginary steering wheel — made by literally holding an imaginary steering wheel above the keyboard — can control and steer a little digital vehicle.

Microsoft Research Keyboard

Those who hate touch screens will love this. It takes the advantages of touch interfaces and welds it to the good old, ever reliable mechanical keyboard. In theory, it would ensure the user’s hands never leave the work surface, negating the need for a touch screen or mouse, improving workflow and allowing the user control over the computer in a more neutral position.

Although the idea is still in its infancy, as the keyboard can only handle 64 pixels of data, it does look promising and is rather intelligent. But don’t expect this to be integrated in all Microsoft’s new keyboards anytime soon.

Andy Walker, former editor


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