Microsoft Research is responsible for all manner of interesting projects, and one of the latest ideas to come from its stables is an interesting keyboard prototype that combines elements of a traditional keyboard as well as more modern ideas such as gestures and touch support. Sitting at a desktop or laptop, most of us are used working with a mechanical keyboard — although Surface users do have the Touch cover — while on mobile devices, it’s touch all the way.
A new breed of keyboard — the Motion Keyboard — augments traditional mechanics with touch and motion sensors. What this means is that as well as allowing for standard typing, the keyboard can also be used to control a computer with touch-based gestures, such as pinch to zoom.
But there are also proximity sensors built into the device which allows for touch-free gestures to be performed. One example shows a driving game being controlled by steering with an invisible wheel above the keyboard, but there are lots of other possibilities.
The keyboard is still in early prototyping at the moment, and the technology behind it is surprisingly simple — little more than a sensor board and infrared sensors — but it is still capable of recognizing a large number of gestures. For anyone who hates having to lift their hands from the keyboard to manipulate the mouse, the prototype presents from intriguing possibilities, with similarities to devices such as Leap Motion.
Check out the video below to see the keyboard in action:
Is this something you’d like to try out for yourself? Do you like the idea of combining a traditional keyboard with gestures, or is it more of a case of ‘never the twain shall meet’?Further reading: Keyboard, Microsoft Research