Microsoft research project brings gesture support to the keyboard

A Microsoft research project has revealed how integrating gestures on a keyboard can greatly enhance user efficiency within the workplace. The prototype device enables hover gestures such as “swipe” and “pinch to zoom” to quickly and effectively navigate between programs on Windows 8. The movements are also compatible within individual applications such as Bing Maps and Office, as well as demonstrating the potential for gaming without the need for a controller.

Currently in prototype form, the keyboard features sensors between key caps that allow for an accurate interpretation as to the position of the hand. The system is capable of “robustly recognizing a large set of challenging gestures” retrieved from a database that is set to grow over time. The device identifies high resolution movements promising accurate results when in practice.

Although in early stages, the keyboard looks promising. The prototype has shown it works on small form factor keyboards, and the technology does not compromise the aesthetics that we pride our workspaces on. It will be a while before we see this product at our local store's but its a good start.

If you are thinking this looks familiar, it should, as the Touch covers for Surface 2 have similar set of features but the difference here is that the gestures are working on a more traditional keyboard. We should note, out of jest of course, that the keyboard in use appears to be one from Apple.

Source: YouTube | Image via Youtube

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Max Norris said,
Very cool.. would certainly find that handy with the Modern stuff especially. If they get that to market just hope it's significantly bigger than that, not a fan of "micro keyboards".

I think they went with the micro-keyboard to show how small it can be, so people don't think you need some huge KB setup to make it work.

George P said,
I think they went with the micro-keyboard to show how small it can be, so people don't think you need some huge KB setup to make it work.

Fair point.. would be feasible on a laptop and such then too. Rather like the concept in general, hope it makes it out of research, probably be significantly cheaper than replacing a bunch of monitors too. (5 on this desk alone, no thanks, never mind fingerprint rage syndrome.)

Awesome, would love this <3 Would reduce my mouse usage to gaming only :o

But as usual this will never ever leave the MS Research and make it into any other division.

wv@gt said,
Ironic that its an Apple Keyboard :-p

No, it's not an Apple keyboard. It's a cheap plastic third-party Mac & Android bluetooth keyboard the research team modified / used parts from. I picked one up with exactly the same keys a few weeks ago at a local supermarket here in Amsterdam for €10.

This looks pretty cool and I can certainly see it useful for many applications. For me just a quick scroll without having to take my palms off the keyboard would be awesome! Hope this gets to see the light of day

xankazo said,
WOW!!! I'm completely blown away!!! I want one now. That's what I call innovation.

They have to release this as a keyboard over for the Surface Pro 3, would be awesome :)

Novel idea. I hope it doesn't suffer the accidental triggering problem that multitouch and single touch touchpad gestures have.

That's nifty, but for someone who views keyboard productivity in terms of high-end clicky keys like I do, it's less than impressive. Now, if the keyboard had some Cherry switches in it, I'd be very interested.

People call this innovation? Hook up a Magic Trackpad to your iMac, Mac Pro or Mac mini and you largely have the same thing with the same capabilities. Not sure what's so exiting about this. :/

.Neo said,
Not sure what's so exiting about this. :/

Magic Trackpad is just a touchpad, nothing exciting there either. This doesn't require touch, and it sits inside the keyboard so your hands don't have to move away from the keyboard. Nothing like it at all.

Max Norris said,

Magic Trackpad is just a touchpad, nothing exciting there either. This doesn't require touch, and it sits inside the keyboard so your hands don't have to move away from the keyboard. Nothing like it at all.

What else would the Magic Trackpad be? The name itself is pretty self-explanatory... My point is that we have had something for years that does the EXACT same thing already in a fashion that's just as easy. Unless the "gesture keyboard" also fully controls the cursor you still end up moving your hand away for many things. The fact that it works differently doesn't make it more practical. Making a pinch motion on my Magic Trackpad isn't any harder than making it in the air right above it.

.Neo said,
The fact that it works differently doesn't make it more practical. Making a pinch motion on my Magic Trackpad isn't any harder than making it in the air right above it.

I didn't say otherwise. The point still stands however. Sensors embedded in the keyboard which doesn't require you to move your hands away to make a gesture while requiring zero additional space is not the same thing as a touch surface sitting off to the side. That would be rather clunky in a laptop for example.. wasted space for a touchpad or having to carry around an additional device that needs to be plugged in versus zero space... when it comes to mobile, I'll take the smaller option thanks, having to plug extra stuff in just sucks.. not a fan of lugging my T650 around either. I could just as easily incorrectly say it's the same thing as a touchscreen or a mouse too which can also do similar things.

Max Norris said,
The point still stands however. Sensors embedded in the keyboard which doesn't require you to move your hands away to make a gesture while requiring zero additional space is not the same thing as a touch surface sitting off to the side. That would be rather clunky in a laptop for example..

You ignored the part of my post where unless the keyboard also offers an option to fully operate your cursor you'll still end up moving your hand. And you'd still require extra space for either mouse or trackpad. So your arguments of it saving space and not having to move your hand just don't apply unless that becomes available.

Ps. All MacBooks come with one of the best and largest notebook multi-touch trackpads in the industry and last time I checked they're not considered to be "clunky".

Edited by .Neo, Apr 29 2014, 8:32am :

.Neo said,
You ignored the part of my post where unless the keyboard also offers an option to fully operate your cursor you'll still end up moving your hand.

That's great but it's still not the same thing. If anything this is more like a Kinect. And who knows, it's still in research, maybe it will.

.Neo said,
Ps. All MacBooks come with one of the best and largest notebook multi-touch trackpads in the industry and last time I checked they're not considered to be "clunky".

Thanks for the advertisement, now I understand why this is hard for you to see the difference. And wouldn't it be nice if you could remove that extra wasted space from having the largest touchpad in the industry built into the chassis?

Max Norris said,
That's great but it's still not the same thing.

And I never claimed it was. It does however, at this point, offer the same features as a multi-touch trackpad hence the reason I don't find it very exciting. For whatever reason this doesn't get through to you.

Max Norris said,
Thanks for the advertisement, now I understand why this is hard for you to see the difference. And wouldn't it be nice if you could remove that extra wasted space from having the largest touchpad in the industry built into the chassis?

It's incredibly simplistic to think the extra space is only there to house the trackpad. Ever stop to think it's also there for internal hardware? Apparently not. Sorry to burst your bubble though: Being able to remove the trackpad doesn't immediately mean you can get rid of the entire band. Other hardware needs a place to go as well.

Edited by .Neo, Apr 29 2014, 1:50pm :

.Neo said,
For whatever reason this doesn't get through to you.

And again you either need to lug around an external device or use a select few laptops. This is a keyboard, usable on anything. Not sure why that's not getting through to you either.

.Neo said,
Ever stop to think it's also there for internal hardware? Apparently not.

See above. Stop thinking small picture.

Max Norris said,

And again you either need to lug around an external device or use a select few laptops. This is a keyboard, usable on anything. Not sure why that's not getting through to you either.

In what year do you live where only a selected few laptops have a trackpad and you need to hook up an external one?

Max Norris said,
See above. Stop thinking small picture.

You're seeing a future where laptops only have a keyboard and no place to rest your palms. That sure sounds practical.

.Neo said,
In what year do you live where only a selected few laptops have a trackpad and you need to hook up an external one?

Jesus you're still not listening. A) Select laptops have a touchpad type of thing that supports multitouch gestures, many do not, B) it doesn't take 5-7 inches of space to rest your palms, and C) It's not just for laptops.

For years now people have been trying to work on bringing a tactile keyboards to touch pads. This idea is novel, but its the complete opposite. Tactile keyboard when you need it, gesture pad when you don't.

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