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Input Devices Microsoft Hardware

Contest Winners Show Potential For Pressure-Sensitive Keyboard 129

Chris Harrison writes "About a month ago, Microsoft sent out prototype pressure sensitive keyboards to 40 international teams. They had four weeks to hack and cobble together some cool ideas. The innovation contest that centered around the keyboards released the winners last night (after a voting period Monday night at the ACM UIST conference). Some pretty neat ideas, ranging from pressure-sensitive password entry (Safelock), magnetic pens for cursor control (Hidden Forces), and even cool climbing (Rock Climbing) and land-deformation games (BallMeR)."
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Contest Winners Show Potential For Pressure-Sensitive Keyboard

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  • by Fry-kun ( 619632 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:11PM (#29686707)

    What if something happens to the legitimate user's hand? Injury, for instance. Or, even simpler - typing with one hand because of holding a coffee mug in another.

  • by gnud ( 934243 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:15PM (#29686763)
    All digital pressure sensors do quantization.

    Most keyboards sensors are binary, but they are still pressure sensitive.
  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:47PM (#29687013) Homepage Journal
    The first application mentioned, the one that assigns user-specific keys/passwords based on typing habits seems like a very impressive and inventive new method of security. Nonetheless, my primary concern would be that it would lock people out of their computers/applications when they have had a little much to drink. On the bright side, I suppose it could cut down on some of the poorer quality Youtube comments and twitter posts...then again, maybe not...
  • Bit pitfall ahead (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BoppreH ( 1520463 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:51PM (#29687043)
    I like the idea, but if they remove the *click* physical feedback, someone's going to die.
  • by kevinmenzel ( 1403457 ) <`kevinmenzel' `at' `'> on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:05PM (#29687183)
    Hey, hey... not ALL the others... some of us are still enjoying our buckling spring keyboards...
  • Remember a decade or two ago when ergonomic keyboards were going to save our lives and bring about world peace? That really panned out, didn't it?

    Or remember before that when the Dvorak layout was being pushed as a better way to type? Clearly since we don't need to worry about typewriter hammers anymore we are ready to move away from QWERTY, right?

    Some of us may recall a laptop manufacturer who claimed to have invented a keyboard that could use the kinetic energy of typing to help charge the battery - anyone have one?
  • by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:12PM (#29687239)

    Not to piss on their parade, but none of those ideas seem like anything that will ever in one way or another be used by anyone. Even the password thing. Why? Because although it seems like a good idea, people like to think of computers as simple dumb machines. And they need to stay this way, so we can predict how they will respond to our actions. No one's going to want to be locked out of their account because their computer doesn't like the way they're typing today (maybe they hurt their left wrist, or maybe they'd rather copy-paste their password in).

    That's pretty typical of the "behold the technology of tomorrow!"-type of concept that never happens cause no one actually wants it, like voice recognition-everything, videophones, video mail or typing e-mails from your living room on your TV set. The problem is that all that's come out of this contest destined to proving the potential of this new keyboard thingie isn't the solution to any problem, or any sort of desirable improvement on anything, which seems to invalidate the merits of the keyboard technology in question. In other words, so what's this thing good for?

  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:48PM (#29687503) Homepage

    A password also tied to key pressure has got to be one of the most out-of-touch-with-reality ideas I've read all day. (And I've been editing Wikipedia.) As if ordinary users didn't have a difficult enough time dealing with foggy memories, poor finger coordination, and the inability to see what characters they've already typed! Implement this, and I will be spending all of my time helping users get logged in to our computers, rather than 1/3 of it.

  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:57PM (#29687569) Homepage

    The best boss I ever had (hi, Carl!) had a question he would ask about any proposed new tech: "What is the problem for which this is the solution?"

  • by izomiac ( 815208 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @10:42PM (#29688555) Homepage
    Several years ago I used a system that used keystroke timing to verify passwords. It worked fine, and was decently accurate, with maybe 5% false negatives and I didn't see any false positives (my experience, so no clue how it worked for other people). Using biometric info from typing can be annoying (you need to sit the same way every time when you type), but it works acceptably well and from the user's perspective it's all stored in motor memory so there's no way to "forget" it, short of hand trauma.
  • Surprised (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2009 @01:48AM (#29689319)

    I'm surprised none of the proposals include use as a musical controller. Maybe because its not a velocity detector, but pressure sensitivity under each key? Man this is kind of a stupid idea. Typical M$. Seems like people run the company with a logitech remote. It seems obvious to me that after the initial key depression, knowing the speed during depression is more useful than the pressure after contact. I mean in interfacing this is like a dual function trigger. A single trigger that can produce 2 events, or an event with an associated property time stamp on the first.

    Don't get me wrong, people would use this musically for vibrato, or doing queer techno tricks with filters. But for tapping out beats and even for a virtual golf game, the velocity would be better to have than a finger staying on a key and pressing M$ really that stupid? Unless you can get velocity from a short bit of pressure at the beginning. Velocity pads have been around for so long. Pressure detectors must be more expensive to make useful. All you need for velocity is an extra contact - 2 per key, with one elevated. Time between contacts, curve to velocity. On a musical keyboard velocity is used 90% of the time, with pressure used maybe 5%, and fixed no sensitivity of anything about 5%.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982