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Microsoft Input Devices Patents

Microsoft Patents Foot Computing 107

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the prior-art-your-butt dept.
theodp writes "Microsoft Research has made it possible for a mother to surf the web while nursing her newborn, thanks to its newly-patented 'foot-based user interface' (FUI?). 'In addition to causing health problems,' explains Microsoft in the patent, 'the traditional keyboard and mouse interface can be simply inconvenient in certain situations as well. In one instance, a mother with a baby in her arms is unable to easily perform simple tasks, such as checking email, on a computer.' Users of the 'Foot-Based Interface for Interacting With a Computer,' however, will be able to move their feet and step on the floor a la DDR to execute various commands, such as deleting email or scrolling down the screen. Due to the usual foot-dragging on the part of the USPTO, the patent — filed for in 2006 — was essentially obsolete by the time it was issued on Tuesday, a week after Microsoft's Kinect launch."
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Microsoft Patents Foot Computing

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  • Kinesis Foot Switch (Score:5, Informative)

    by Compaqt (1758360) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @12:30PM (#34198168) Homepage

    Forgot about these?

    Savant Elite Programmable USB Foot Switches

    http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/fs-savant-elite.htm [kinesis-ergo.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by poetmatt (793785)

      nah, our patent office decided this was a non-obvious patent because it used words and drawings.

    • Microsoft Patents Foot Computing

      Prior art [youtube.com]

    • by Amouth (879122)

      or

      http://www.amazon.com/Maxi-Aids-Footime-Foot-Mouse/dp/B001CH956U [amazon.com]

      it's amazing.. get the the patent and already have things for sale.

      wait.. isn't that prior art?? (i know they filed in 2006 but I've seen these for a lot longer than that).

    • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @01:01PM (#34198546)
      Forgot? Heavens no. They're first on our list of companies to extort for intellectual property that we now own.
    • by leuk_he (194174)

      Read the patent. The patent speaks about electromagnetic waves not switches. YOu need to use light or IR (kinect uses IR)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by icebike (68054)

        Read the patent. The patent speaks about electromagnetic waves not switches. YOu need to use light or IR (kinect uses IR)

        So then its KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex all over again. Anyone schooled in the art would swap one signaling layer for another in a heartbeat (radio for wires), and having wireless keyboards for years means no one would come out with new devices requiring wires when a simple USB/Bluetooth dongle would suffice.

        I still say this goes down upon first challenge.

    • Apparently Microsoft never saw this device before either

      http://www.dentalrat.com/ [dentalrat.com]

      (My company used to make the machined parts for the V.1 of the this device)

    • by nasor (690345)
      The MS patent in question cover a specific method for making a foot control - it doesn't cover the idea of foot-controlled computers in general.
  • Windows. (Score:3, Funny)

    by olsmeister (1488789) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @12:30PM (#34198170)
    The next time Windows crashes on me, I will demonstrate another foot-based input method, until nothing is left but bits and pieces.
    • by hufter (542690)
      Software is the part of the computer you cannot kick. Don't blame the hardware if the software sucks!
    • by arivanov (12034)

      Well, from Foot User Interface to Heel User Interface is just one letter...

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      The next time Windows crashes on me, I will demonstrate another foot-based input method, until nothing is left but bits and pieces.

      Try upgrading to Windows ME, it solves almost all the problems associated with Windows 9x.

      *chuckles evilly*.

  • Now non-MIT graduates can scam casinos too!

  • I suppose this means that my MIDI expression pedal [wikipedia.org] is going to shoot up to $200 due to cross licensing. To say nothing of my PI Engineering foot controller [piengineering.com] that I use to switch editing controls in Pro Tools.
    • by Shikaku (1129753)

      No, that would be Gnome, prior art is already a foot.

      • by Shikaku (1129753)

        Nobody got it did they... Gnome's logo is a foot, and a foot is a pun on afoot...

        I'll be in my basement, I failed.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's going to look just like a Monty Python cartoon.

  • by at10u8 (179705) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @12:36PM (#34198250)
    There is prior art for foot-based interfaces [wikipedia.org]
  • by mrsteveman1 (1010381) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @12:37PM (#34198266)

    I've heard of "one handed typing", but if you have to get your feet, both hands and a baby involved, seek therapy.

    • by nizo (81281) *

      Actually I always thought this would be a great way to mess with people. "Look, my computer is possessed!"

  • by mewsenews (251487) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @12:39PM (#34198282) Homepage

    Finally a patent I can agree with. This is some innovative work. Just this morning while driving to work I was thinking "gee, I wish my feet could be used to control something.. too bad nobody has invented foot based controls"

    • They have. I've personally seen a foot-operated keyboard and mouse setup on a Mac in 1988 for a person without the ability to use the regular hand-operated input devices.

      DDR controls are too clumsy, what WOULD be clever is a mini-kinetic operated by toes, one hand, or a little puppet. This is a job for the maker-monkeys. Now fly, fly!

    • by Huge_UID (1089143)
      A guy at work has been talking for years about a foot mouse he could use while browsing porn. He should have patented the idea...
  • Finally, MS is finding a way to elimiate all those pesky quiet moments so they can be filled with email and web browsing. I look forward to Meditation Computing.

  • by gmac63 (12603)

    You gotta be some seriously pathetic Internet Junkie if you can't tear yourself away from surfing the web while taking care of a baby. Sad. REALLY freakin' sad people.

    -WY

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You must not be addicted to Farmville

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Theaetetus (590071)

      You gotta be some seriously pathetic Internet Junkie if you can't tear yourself away from surfing the web while taking care of a baby. Sad. REALLY freakin' sad people.

      That's one way to look at it. Another, better way to look at it is that now people can spend more time taking care of their babies than they do currently, without sacrificing their work productivity.

    • by tsalmark (1265778)
      I often find my hands busy while surfing the internet. A foot mouse would be great while surfing and, erm how to put it, not making babies.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Do you know how insanely boring it is to sit in a rocking chair and stare at a wall for 8 hours a day to breastfeed your baby? I've gotten quite far in Angry Birds on my iPhone in the 10 weeks since my son was born. I would kill for a full computer I could operate without my hands.

  • Computing using feet is just not good. They should go with metric measurements to maintain compatibility with international standards.

    What? They mean actual feet? Oh... nevermind....

  • I suppose it's foot-dragging when you want the patent to be granted, and thoroughness when you don't want it to be granted.

  • Old idea is old (Score:4, Informative)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @12:47PM (#34198372) Homepage

    Sorry Microsoft, but this has been around for over a decade.
    http://www.footmouse.com/ [footmouse.com]

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @12:49PM (#34198394) Homepage Journal

    http://www.gamingnexus.com/FullNews/I-think-Kinect-is-OK2c-but-its-the-best-24150-I-spent-on-a-console/Item20369.aspx [gamingnexus.com]

    One of the areas I figured Kinect would excel would be in rehabilitation and those who cannot use normal input devices. Seems this guy's kid is a great example of it. Controllers for the most part are just wrong. The Wii came close but the feel is broken as many times the motions one makes with the controller don't match up well if at all with on screen action.

    So, yeah, this MS patent is a bit old, out of date, whatever. It is just more of programmers and such learning how people can, will, and do, interface with computers. the keyboard and mouse have got to go one day.

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Thursday November 11, 2010 @12:53PM (#34198454) Homepage Journal

    Please read the actual patent claims themselves before declaring prior art. The fact that the Slashdot headline boldly proclaims "Microsoft Patents Foot Computing" doesn't mean that the patent covers every manifestation of foot-controlled computing. Every single time a patent is discussed in Slashdot, we go through the same song and dance about how there's prior art. And yes, I know it's Slashdot and nobody actually reads the primary sources, but jeez, it gets old.

    For a readable primer on how the US patent system works, read Schechter and Thomas' Principles of Patent Law [thomson.com]

    • by russotto (537200)

      Please read the actual patent claims themselves before declaring prior art. The fact that the Slashdot headline boldly proclaims "Microsoft Patents Foot Computing" doesn't mean that the patent covers every manifestation of foot-controlled computing.

      No, it just means Microsoft will be able to plausibly sue over every manifestation of foot-controlled computing. And with patent case law strongly favoring a wide interpretation of a patent's coverage and narrow interpretation of prior art, they'll likely win.

      • by Infonaut (96956)

        No, it just means Microsoft will be able to plausibly sue over every manifestation of foot-controlled computing. And with patent case law strongly favoring a wide interpretation of a patent's coverage and narrow interpretation of prior art, they'll likely win. Wait, my first "No" is incorrect, then.

        I've not seen evidence of the "wide interpretation" of patent claims you're talking about, but I could be convinced if you had some evidence.

        Also, it's important to note that prior art isn't the only limiting f

  • ... the interface will initially be test-marketed in Asia, under "Hong Kong FUI" branding.

  • Rose Mary Woods [wikipedia.org]

    (Ok, not anymore, but if they'd come out with this a few years ago she would have been perfect.)

  • I have been using two foot paddles for both gaming and general computer use for roughly 8 years now... In Windows one paddles basically does a page back the other for change song. But they are especially awesome in games. In shooter type of games I usually have reload and use or take cover and in rpg games they are the hp and mana potion buttons :)
  • What about the people who cheat at roulette by using a computer and the interface in their shoe? Or was that in Blackjack?

  • examples: stomp boxes for guitar players, foot pedals for sewing machines, which were copied after foot pedals for Movieola film editor viewers, foot pedals for Ironrite ironing drum machines, accelerator pedals, on and on.

    oh, and if my hands are busy, I pet the cat with my foot.

    • by szyzyg (7313)

      Yeah I used to use a set of DDR pads hooked into my laptop to trigger samples and effects on my laptop while DJ'ing, I just used a macro program to map input events to ui controls.

  • "To summarize, embodiments allow a user to take a break from his or her normal working position and engage in a fun and interactive way of interacting with a personal computer. In contrast to the traditional method of using a keyboard and mouse to interact with a computer, embodiments efficiently utilize a foot-based interface, such as a foot pad, to interact with different application programs (e.g., email or photos application programs). In one example, a user can easily check email by stepping on differe
  • You may call it that, Submitter, but if you bothered reading the page you linked to, you'd see that in spite of an average of 450 thousand applications received each month, the backlog is actually going down.
    • by bmo (77928)

      I just looked at the numbers. I am assuming the 450,000 patent applications per month is correct.

      There are roughly 6,200 patent examiners for utility patents, on to which there are roughly 3,000 patents per hour (450,000/160 hours in a month at a maximum).

      A patent examiner in my fictional world of a full 8 hour day of work, therefore, has less than two hours to give a thumbs up or down on a patent. But it's never 8 hours. More like 6.5 if the Patent Office follows typical business productivity figures.

      • I just looked at the numbers. I am assuming the 450,000 patent applications per month is correct.

        There are roughly 6,200 patent examiners for utility patents, on to which there are roughly 3,000 patents per hour (450,000/160 hours in a month at a maximum).

        A patent examiner in my fictional world of a full 8 hour day of work, therefore, has less than two hours to give a thumbs up or down on a patent. But it's never 8 hours. More like 6.5 if the Patent Office follows typical business productivity figures. And a patent application is never in English. It's in Patent-Attorney-Speak and deliberately obfuscated and wide enough to drive a truck through, with every trick tried to game the system. To expect the detection of prior art by a patent examiner is too much to ask for.

        The patent office is bogus.

        -- BMO

        So you're complaining about too little "foot-dragging"?

        • by bmo (77928)

          How is 2 hours/application "foot dragging"?

          How about instead we hire more examiners (ooooooh, big government! bad! bad!), reduce the kinds of things that can be patented (disallow nature and math and software) and introduce a little sanity?

          Because at this rate there isn't any "examining" going on.

          --
          BMO

          • How is 2 hours/application "foot dragging"?

            How about instead we hire more examiners (ooooooh, big government! bad! bad!),

            Sure.

            reduce the kinds of things that can be patented (disallow nature and math and software) and introduce a little sanity?

            Nature and math can't be patented. Why disallow software? All other processes are patentable.

            Additionally, if you have a beef with software patents, then argue that. Claiming that we have to exclude an area of invention from patentability because the Examiners are overworked would be an unconstitutional violation of due process - it's equivalent to saying we should refuse to give drivers' licenses to black people because the DMV is overworked. I mean, have you seen the lines there? Obviously, the solu

            • by bmo (77928)

              >Nature and math can't be patented.

              At last check, the patentability of naturally occurring genes was still possible. Last week the justice department sided against this in court, but I don't think a decision has been handed down yet.

              Algorithms (math) are currently still being patented.

              Why disallow software? Because it's *already covered by copyright* Indeed, copyright seems to be the stronger of the pair. Why patent the underlying math? a 20 years? That's an eternity for a company to monetize its in

  • Surely it's a Foot-operated User Device (FUD)?

    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      Surely it's a Foot-operated User Device (FUD)?

      No, they've had FUD patented for years.

  • I remember Blizzard tried to pawn footpads off on players for World of Warcraft. I don't think those ever got any foothold either. Good luck M$
  • that we've gotten to a point where we can't even spend time with our children without feeling the need to check for email or facebook updates?

    • by Combatso (1793216)
      our son spent his first 3 months in an isolette as he was very premature... when we got him home, feeding was difficult.. they eat every two hours, and since he was used to a feeding tube, he was a very slow eater.. sometimes it would take 1:45 to feed him... this was around the clock... for her sanity we did as much bottle feeding as possible, but even that took an hour and half most days... it was constant feeding... so yeah, after a while you cry out for some social interaction, even if it is just on
  • Now a drop-kick interface that would be handy.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @01:27PM (#34198824)

    I think I've seen something with a foot interface that keeps the hands free [brassbowl.net] before. I guess the "...on a computer" part makes it an original invention that nobody would have thought of.

  • I have patented a penis input device, to make it easier to type when, well, you know...
    • by hufter (542690)
      Yeah, it would be "handy" to have an alternative method to change the porn clip while you are masturbating and your hands are soaked with lubricant.
  • There have been a number of foot operated input devices developed for card counting hardware/applications.

    • yeah... let's not forget car's, pipe organs & piano pedal, black smith bellows, sewing machine's with foot operated speed control, etc, etc.

      MS is simply using the foot as X in the bogus "Using X on a computer", patent formula.

      • by Combatso (1793216)
        and the countless press operators that use a pedal to control the press (because the safety equipment pulls their hands back with a chain)..
  • ...use her breasts to surf the web while riding a bicycle? You know, thinking maybe a handle bar mounted pda, or something like that.
  • Seriously, this has got to be obvious since some people use their feet as others would normally use hands [youtube.com].

  • Microsoft had to give up on the "Nipple Mouse(tm)", because it kept shocking mother and baby.

  • In one instance, a mother with a baby in her arms is unable to easily perform simple tasks, such as checking email, on a computer.' Users of the 'Foot-Based Interface for Interacting With a Computer,' however, will be able to move their feet and step on the floor a la DDR to execute various commands, such as deleting email or scrolling down the screen.

    For some reason I don't think it's quite a good idea to play DDR (or even emulate the DDR menu system) while holding a baby.

    • by wolf1oo (1732258)

      I agree entirely, that was my first thought when reading this. If someone does not have their hands free, clearly they are occupied with something else, in which case they really should not be using a computer... I can see some genius connecting it to a laptop and checking emails while driving.

  • Shift-Ctrl-Alt pedals were sold by Fry's Electronics in mid-90s, website is still up: http://www.bilbo.com/ [bilbo.com]

  • "YOU! Stop reading Slashdot and get back to work!" BOOT TO THE HEAD

    Now I owe Microsoft a buck.

  • I'm kinda confused. I'm certain it's not April, but.... Ok, just try to tell me that if this article was posted April 1, you would believe it!

  • This will be a huge bonus for anyone who is paralysed from the waist up and therefore unable to use their arms. ;-)

  • > step on the floor a la DDR to execute various commands

    Doesn't that mean that DDR has prior art, then ?

That does not compute.

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