Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Input Devices Hardware Hacking

Microsoft Hardware Demos Pressure-Sensitive Keyboard 212

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the wtb-vi-plugin-for-this-device dept.
Krystalo writes to tell us that Microsoft hardware has an interesting demo of a pressure-sensitive keyboard they have designed. While there are no currently announced plans to turn this into a shipping product, there are many cool uses that one could imagine a device like this providing. "The device will be put to use in the first annual Student Innovation Contest in Victoria, Canada, where contestants will be supplied with a keyboard prototype and challenged with developing new interactions for it. Contestants will demo their creations and attendees will vote for their favorite at the conference on October 5. $2,000 prizes will be given to the authors of programs deemed as the most useful, the best implementation, and the most innovative."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Hardware Demos Pressure-Sensitive Keyboard

Comments Filter:
  • A keyboard that can actually detect when someone presses on a key! Will wonders never cease.
    • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:36PM (#28990483) Journal
      No, it is PRESSURE SENSITIVE. It will upcase letters when you press THEM HARD.
      • by Tim4444 (1122173) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:42PM (#28990581)
        aha! finally a keyboard that can make everything uppercase when i'm shouting at you!! i mean SHOUTING AT YOU!!!!
      • by infolation (840436) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:12PM (#28991009)
        The parallels with synthesiser keyboard technology are quite interesting. The video in the article talks about using the force the key's hit with to determine whether a key was pressed in error. Soft key hits are likely to be unintentional 'glancing blows'. This is also the classic problem with non-touch sensitive synth keyboards - they suddenly make adept pianists appear to be clumsy morons because every glancing key hit produces a 'wrong note'.

        However, in synth terminology, keyboards are distinguished as 'velocity sensitive' (how fast the key is initially hit, like a piano) and 'pressure sensitive' (how hard the key is pressed after the initial strike, like a clavichord pitch-bending a note, sometimes called 'polyphonic aftertouch'). The microsoft keyboard is both velocity and pressure sensitive, with multiple simultaneous channels of pressure sensitivity. The pressure aftertouch has some interesting applications in creative software, where artists have to input several layers or dimensions of data simultaneously. (My field is film post-production so I'm specifically thinking about 3-D). This is currently implemented in most software using a messy combination of simultaneously mouse and modifier keys. But using pressure sensitive keys would accommodate several other simultaneous continuously-variable 'dimensions' of data input.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by digitalunity (19107)

          I can imagine a large variety of useful ways to use pressure sensitive keys in gaming and media editing. Specifically, with applying paint tools in GIMP or Photoshop.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Razalhague (1497249)
            Then all we need is a pressure sensitive mouse. Or do they already exist? I'm not talking about tablets, a simple mouse with pressure sensitive buttons would be a lot cheaper than any tablet of reasonable size.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jpmorgan (517966)
        That's actually a pretty cool idea. You've just eliminated the shift and capslock keys. You could probably eliminate other function keys too with other clever combinations + pressures. That would be fantastic for a tiny netbook.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          You'd really need a fairly broadly adopted standard for that to work out. Chorded keyboards [wikipedia.org] are crazy powerful, especially per unit area/number of keys; but they find only the most specialist applications and users because they have a nontrivial learning curve, and are quite obscure.

          Unless you wanted to confine yourself to only the most trivial of substitutions, you'd need broad adoption to motivate people to put in the effort of learning the new system. Even systems that merely involve software remappin
      • by marciot (598356) on Friday August 07, 2009 @09:07PM (#28992787)

        I nEEd to leArN to TyPE wiTH moRe coNSistENT preSsurE.

    • by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:43PM (#28990593)

      A keyboard that can actually detect when someone presses on a key! Will wonders never cease.

      We're still waiting for the comment that can actually detect when it shouldn't be posted, as evidenced by the parent...

  • by ausekilis (1513635) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:29PM (#28990379)
    light pressure for lower case 'a', harder pressure for upper case 'A', and abrupt spikes in pressure for expletives "#$@^%^!".
    • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:38PM (#28990527)
      I can think of one use right off.
      If person typing an email is hitting keys harder than normal. Delay sending the message for a few hours, as they are probably angry and might wish they had not sent the message.
      • Perfect! Now someone just needs to write the plugin for gMail.

        • Perfect! Now someone just needs to write the plugin for gMail.

          Reminds me of a similar Labs option in GMail that makes you solve a few arithmetic problems before sending the email. It's appropriately called "Mail Goggles", I assume because the primary purpose would be to prevent drunk-mailing someone.

      • Delay sending the message for a few hours, as they are probably angry and might wish they had not sent the message.

        by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011br>
        Angry? Or just horny drunken emails sent late at night? C'mon, tell the truth...

        And don't just delay the message... require an on-screen sobriety test and positive confirmation that the email is to be sent (with 'no' set as default response).

        • Angry? Or just horny drunken emails sent late at night? C'mon, tell the truth...

          Can't you just see Clippy, "It is 2AM and your are hitting your keyboard keys harder than normal. I suspect you are drunk and horny. I will delay the sending of this message until you have had time for a cold shower."

      • by Xtravar (725372)

        Weird. The emails I usually regret are the ones that I didn't realize are offensive/antagonizing. Apparently, it pisses people off more if you say something they don't like in a cool tone.

      • In case of Vista the behavior when detecting user annoyance will be to increase the number of confirmation dialogs for a given action to three (normally there are two) so that the user will get even more pissed off, leading to even more confirmation dialogs. The inevitable result is that the user will eventually smash his computer to bits and buy a new one = Profit!
      • Maybe they are angry that their keyboard keeps delaying their emails for some reason.
    • There was some talk a while ago about identifying users by their typing characteristics - examining the pauses between their keystrokes. Perhaps the force they typically use to press keys could be part of their password, helping to prevent shoulder surfing.

      I wonder if stochastic passwords would be possible using this keyboard. In other words, passwords which are dependent on typing exactly the right letters, but with approximately the right force.
  • Dammed! (Score:4, Funny)

    by OrangeMonkey11 (1553753) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:31PM (#28990397)
    Now keyboards can report abuse when I beat the shit out of it when I get pissed off
  • by basementman (1475159) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:32PM (#28990405) Homepage

    Rubber dome keys, keys do different things based on different pressures, extra useless features, won't be hard to type on at all.

  • Gamer keyboard! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigDXLT (1218924) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:33PM (#28990421)
    Yes, yes and more yes. The one thing I've always wanted in a keyboard. No more walk/run modifier key or jerky steering in driving/flying games. Yay!
    • by Thalagyrt (851883)

      Exactly... This would be pretty awesome for games.

    • by dr_wheel (671305)

      ...or jerky steering in driving/flying games.

      I'll stick to wheels and joysticks in racing/flying sims, thanks. Atleast until they start using pressure-sensitive keyboards in cars and airplanes.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CheddarHead (811916)

        I agree that for a game that is purely driving or flying that joysticks or wheels would be better. However, there are many games (FPSs for example) that incorporate driving or flying as some small part of the game, but the bulk of the game is better controlled with a mouse and keyboard. This could potentially improve those driving/flying games sequences.

    • If only they were ergonomic. (Protip: All MS [or Logitech, or pretty much all others] keyboards without any exception are not ergonomic. They just look as if they were.)

      Give me a DataHand Pro II [datahand.com] with an integrated 6-axis orb/ball for one hand, and pressure sensitive keys, below $200 for both hands, and you got a ton of clients!

    • Yes, yes and more yes. The one thing I've always wanted in a keyboard. No more walk/run modifier key or jerky steering in driving/flying games. Yay!

      No, it'll be perfect for Emacs users. Now they can add "light press", "medium press", "hard press", "whacked key" to the list of available modifiers! Think of how much more productive they can be now that they increased the number of modifiers available. Now every function will be able to be mapped to a keystroke or a set of them. E.g., whack Q 5 times to quit.

      H

  • Come on... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:34PM (#28990441)
    Can't believe no one has made a musical keyboard comment yet...On the other hand, it seems we just keep getting closer and closer to LCARS.
    • by Inda (580031)
      Sound effects on each key would make me buy one!

      *peeow* *ping ping ping* *baaw*
      • I was actually thinking along those lines, except piano notes or drum kit hits for each key. Run across a random beat typing a slashdot comment, and you can just re-type your comment to reproduce it!
    • by Mattsson (105422)

      Well... Comparison to the NanoKey [korgnano.com] would be in order. =)

    • by tenco (773732)
      I doubt that something like LCARS would be possible in an economy ruled by IP laws. Because, what's a CARS without an L?
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Someone has made the musical keyboard comment, and LCARS won't become a reality because its an absolutely shitty interface.

  • This keyboard could be a boon to Emacs users. pressing a key "lightly" could mean to run the lisp function bound to the "light press" of the key. Many common operations would no longer require Control or Meta chords.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by LiquidCoooled (634315)

      for the love of god, please add code to close it when I bash the keyboard repeatedly.

      I have mistakenly thought this functionality already existed.

    • by eln (21727) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:42PM (#28990589) Homepage
      No, they would just add more features to emacs to take advantage of it.

      "(light press)Meta-(hard press)Ctrl-(medium press)Shift-(hard press)C" automatically spell and grammar checks your document while giving you a light foot massage, but "(hard press)Meta-(medium press)Ctrl-(light press)Shift-(medium press)C" launches the missiles. That sort of thing.
    • by pmontra (738736)
      Damn, I wanted so much to be the first one to point out how good this a multitouch pressure sensor will be for my emacs typing sessions. I'm going to have control, shift, meta, extra light, very light, light, strong, very strong, extra strong and many others. It looks like Christmas. I look forward to a light-x, very-strong-c, alt-ctrl-shift b combo. I just wonder if I can make it. I'll start training right now!
  • Ummm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anachragnome (1008495) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:36PM (#28990487)

    How about the students sit on their ideas and market them when the keyboard comes out?

    Should be worth more then a lousy $2000, especially considering the fact that the students will have NO intellectual property rights once they submit through the contest.

    Just another way for MS to steal ideas, patent them and then pocket all the profits.

    On another note, I wonder what MS employees think about their employer opting to go outside the company for ideas rather then feed their employees families.

    • On another note, I wonder what MS employees think about their employer opting to go outside the company for ideas rather then feed their employees families.

      They're probably fine with it. Instead of having to think *what* to do with it, they simply have to think *how* to implement.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anachragnome (1008495)

        Right.

        You're probably correct. Their employees more then likely already realize MS will patent the ideas REGARDLESS, and steal them anyways, so whats the difference, right?

    • by omnichad (1198475)

      And then the keyboard never makes it to market. See, MS just thought it would be a neat idea. They had no practical ideas on what to use it for. Unless the student gives them a cheap answer, the product is dead in the water.

      • Hardly.

        There is plenty of prior art, as the numerous posts in this thread have already shown. One of these students could modify the concept, include their own ideas and head to market.

        And before you post a reply, think of all the times MS has done EXACTLY the same thing.

        Most recent example(less then 24 hours old):

        http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/08/06/2322209 [slashdot.org]

    • by Burning1 (204959)

      For a student, having a line item on the resume is likely to be worth more than the royalties they would get for a novelty application. For instance, it would be very difficult to compete with Microsoft by developing an accessibility tool, but having credit and your name in the about page may lead to more job opportunities and higher wages coming out of school.

      Not every student is willing to pursue patent applications or royalty negotiations, but pretty much any student out there can benefit from the exposu

  • Clippy (Score:2, Funny)

    by Nos. (179609)

    Great, I can see it now. I sit down to type some angry letter to someone and Clippy is going to pop up:

    "You seem to be pressing the keys very hard, are you upset?"

    Its going to be the next Eliza.

    • Great, I can see it now. I sit down to type some angry letter to someone and Clippy is going to pop up:

      "You seem to be pressing the keys very hard, are you upset?"

      Its going to be the next Eliza.

      Even Better, when someone is typing very hard to make a slashdot comment, it just starts outputting smileys instead. Calm down, THEN post!

    • by hendersj (720767)

      "You seem to be pressing the keys very hard, are you upset?"

      Cue "fist to keyboard" macro that causes Clippy to blow up....

    • by Verdatum (1257828)
      Imagine if you gave one of these keyboards to "Angry German Kid". Clippy shows up in tears, "I'm loading Unreal Tournament as fast as I can! What more do you want from me??"
  • EXCELLENT, NOW THE WORLD WILL KNOW HOW ANGRY I AM WITH 8 BIT PRECISION!!!!! (/. rejected this comment until I added this in parenthesis )
    • by dr_wheel (671305)
      Personally, I'm waiting for the 2nd-gen 16-bit keyboard with Blast Processing(tm).
      • Personally, I'm waiting for the 2nd-gen 16-bit keyboard with Blast Processing(tm).

        When that keyboard reboots, does it go "SAAAAY GAAAAAA!!!!" ?

  • Every keyboard I've ever used has been pressure sensitive. They need a different name for this.

    With precedent, I suggest "keyboard col piano e forte."

    I hope they didn't patent this. If they did, there's prior art. I mean, aside from pianos. With manual typewriters, when the ribbon got old, the harder you pressed, the darker the character.
  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:42PM (#28990587) Homepage
    Yeah, I know they meant it distinguishes between a light hit and a hard hit.

    They really need a better name.

    Perhaps simply calling it "Variable Pressure Keyboard"

    • by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:48PM (#28990661)

      Yeah, I know they meant it distinguishes between a light hit and a hard hit.

      They really need a better name.

      Perhaps simply calling it "Variable Pressure Keyboard"

      Velocity Sensitive is commonly used in the music industry in describing a keyboards that react to pressure. That work for ya?

      • by Chirs (87576) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:02PM (#28990857)

        Amazingly enough, "velocity sensitive" keyboards respond to velocity, not pressure.

        • by RealGrouchy (943109) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:13PM (#28991019)

          Amazingly enough, "velocity sensitive" keyboards respond to velocity, not pressure.

          I don't care if the keyboard knows whether I'm bashing it or I'm throwing it across the room, so long as it knows I'm pissed off at it!

          - RG>

        • Amazingly enough, "velocity sensitive" keyboards respond to velocity, not pressure.

          Depends on which keyboard you are referring to. There are those that measure how fast the key reaches bottom, those that measure how far they are held down, those that continue to measure how far they are held down. All too often, they are clumped together as "Velocity Sensitive" or "Touch Sensitive" until you start reaching the higher tiers of equipment where the manufacturer actually paid attention to what they made. Visit a couple music stores, read some labels and manuals, you'll be both surprised and a

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Velocity Sensitive is commonly used in the music industry in describing a keyboards that react to pressure. That work for ya?

        It'd take a bit more work to implement this; but I bet there'd be a small market (centered around Redmond, WA) for Velocity Sensitive Chairs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Khashishi (775369)

        No, velocity sensitivity doesn't react to pressure, but how fast you strike the key. The term you are looking for is aftertouch.

    • Well, in electronic keyboards [wikipedia.org] it's called either "touch sensitivity" or "velocity".

    • No, you misunderstood...

      I feel very sorry for this poor sensitive keyboard - feeling pressured by Microsoft's hardware demos.

      Not that it's the only one who feels pressured by MS, mind you!

    • Why? The PlayStation 2's DualShock 2 controllers released back in 2000 had pressure sensitive buttons. Why change what you call something, other than to make it seem like you totally didn't rip off a decade old technology.
  • by Tom9729 (1134127) <tom9729NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:46PM (#28990641) Homepage

    I honestly read the summary title as "Microsoft Hardware Demos Pleasure Sensitive Keyboard".

    Needless to say I was very disturbed...

  • The real question is what kind of sensitivity response you will get when you hit someone over the head with your keyboard. Discuss among yourselves, any troll commentators will be seen as volunteering themselves for testing in this field.
  • To post a real use for the keyboard...
    Moving using the WASD keys in a FPS: Light touch means walk - Normal pressure means run. I would probably like this better than using a separate key to turn run on & off, but don't make me ever use more than normal pressure for running in a game.
  • "It looks like you're pounding on the keyboard in frustration Can I help you with that?"
  • -Variable scroll speed with arrow keys
    -Double-map function keys to get through F24
    -Pressure patterns can be analyzed to suggest how to improve ergonomics on a per-user basis. Combine with some sort of flexible/customizable keyboard that can produce a variety of shapes and you can adjust it in seconds. It would be sweet to have a keyboard that changes how it is raised or curved automatically in response to how you are typing.
    -Apply this to cell phones so texting on a standard num-pad requires only 1 pres
  • by Ichijo (607641) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:06PM (#28990917) Homepage Journal

    As you can see, the keyboard has pressure-sensitive keys, meaning each key is capable of recording pressure force, up to an 8-bit resolution.

    Excellent! Keyboards from now on will need only 1 key!

  • by pspahn (1175617)
    Why can't we just have a pressure sensitive mouse? Graphics tablets aren't for everyone, mmkay?
    • Why can't we just have a pressure sensitive mouse? Graphics tablets aren't for everyone, mmkay?

      You'd be better off with a scroll wheel specific to brush size. You don't actually think you'll be able to hold a specific pressure with just one finger while moving a mouse in different directions do you? Also, realize that any graphics tablet has 256 levels of pressure at the low range. Your finger would be going up and down without you even realizing it, and you would get weird opacity and line thickness that could be achievable with a randomizer on the function anyway. Go get a Bamboo fun, *keep* using

    • I wonder how many companies scour /. for ideas such as yours.

      Well, it doesn't really apply to text as the keyboard would, but that is actually a really good idea.

      My daughter uses a tablet for everything, including mundane tasks like web-surfing. Easier then switching between the two, I guess. Your idea would solve MY problem as well...sitting down at her machine and having to ask her where her mouse is.

      To be honest, I think she would dump the tablet if she had a mouse such as the one you describe.

  • It would seem clear to any idiot that the examples given in the video are utterly useless.

    So, how about some uses that might actually work?

    I'll start with this one: Ignore the lightest key presses. How often have you accidentally triggered a key whilst you were simply moving your hands around? If you just completely ignore any key presses below a certain treshold, this may be eliminated.

    Or perhaps this; if you press some adjacent keys simultaneously, the keyboard driver could only register the key that was

  • If they want to use it for gaming, it's going to need to send aftertouch signals, indicating changes in pressure while the key is held. Otherwise how will it know when you go from a walk to a run without releasing the button, or want to go from burst fire to full auto?

    It's not that hard folks, MIDI keyboards have been able to do this for decades.

    Mal-2

  • A keyboard that can Auto Capitalize as I type. The would be awesome.
  • It would seem that if you can say profile someone by the way they type, this would just make it easier to ID people by the way they use their keyboard.

    Great for invasion of privacy uses, but also might make for new types of biometric security. If you are logged in to a session, and some other person starts using your keyboard the computer to could just lock you out.

    Now, if we can just figure out how to secure Windows somehow.

  • With 8-bit resolution, Apple can finally create a one button keyboard that accompanies their one button mice.
  • The paper was titled, "Utilizing Pressure-sensitive Keyboards to Enhance the Realism of Real-Time Sexual Interactions between Three-Dimensional Avatars".
  • Protip: patent your ideas before demonstrating them to Microsoft, that's probably the only way you'll make any real money. $2,000 for the winner of such an idea is a pittance, and if your idea is not chosen, you will get nothing, even though the idea may still be used later on.

    The DualShock 2 for the PlayStation 2 could sense pressure with every button except L3, R3, Start, and Select, but was never really used for much. In MGS2 it was used; you could ease your finger off the "fire" button to avoid shoot

Wherever you go...There you are. - Buckaroo Banzai

Working...