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Microsoft Education Input Devices

Microsoft's Adaptive Touchscreen Keyboard 77

ramandeeps noted a Microsoft research project on an adaptive keyboard that is essentially a touchscreen that updates to make it easier to keep complex keybindings to a minimum. This is part of the 2010 Student Innovation Contest, so if you want one and happen to be a student, you can sign up to do research on the device.

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Microsoft's Adaptive Touchscreen Keyboard

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  • Re:Seen before ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 16, 2010 @11:05AM (#33263814)

    Did they claim that it's "their own major exclusive new super-invention"?

    More like "this is what we research on right now, and we have some spare parts, want to take a look?"

  • Re:Seen before ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @11:09AM (#33263868)
    What Microsoft claims are you talking about?

    Microsofts involvement here is simply that they provided hardware and some funding. The UIST is an initiative of the ACM.
  • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @11:46AM (#33264288)

    It seems to me that an adaptive keyboard is a crutch for people who don't want to learn a product well enough to be good at it. I fail to see how having buttons that change with context is really much better than being able to chose the same context with a mouse.

    Well I think I know who wouldn't win this competition. ;)

    If you fail to see how an adaptive interface can be useful, I would point you to successes which are currently in-use. The iPhone, Logitech's high-end remotes, etc. Now the trick with these, is that their interface doubles as their primary screen, so the big thing here is why/how is this going to be better than mouse/screen (as you rightfully brought up).

    But isn't that the point of this competition? We don't know an immediate way this can be implemented to be better, but it isn't impossible that something interesting and useful could come up.

    The obvious example is gaming. Yes I know, you can have all your information up there on your HUD, but couldn't that be a bit distracting or non-immersive? I know when I play paintball I don't have an overlay telling me how tired I am, how many balls are in my hopper, what my gas pressure is. At least for the latter two, I'd have to look down to check it. It opens up the possibility to make the main screen a pure display, and move the status and interface elements elsewhere and accessible, but not gone.

    It wouldn't ALWAYS be the best thing to do, but sometimes it might be, and when it is, it would be possible.

    One application which I would LOVE to have context aware menus/toolbars/interfaces shifted OFF of my screen is for applications like Excel or other cases where screen space is more important to me than having an always present but not always used tools surrounding my workarea.

    Web browsing could be another interesting aspect as I currently use only 5/8ths of my keyboard for typing. Having the remaining 3/8ths turn into large, but useful buttons (Forward, Back, Stop, Refresh).

    And one aspect where I would KILL for a device like this?

    Home Theater & entertainment. Think about how nice it would be to have a keyboard which could display a whole set of commands for controlling your movies/music without having to take down the visualization, or walk to a position where you can see the screen then manipulate a mouse, select what you want, etc. Everything could be right there on your keyboard and tailored just for your application.

    Of course, I don't have to wonder about that last part, since I currently use an old iPhone as a device to control my computer when I'm listening to music/watching movies/etc. Hitting a button and having it shift from a remote control for my cable box, and turn into a small but useful keyboard/mouse has been great.

    I'd love to enter this competition, if I had known about it earlier (and was still a student).

  • Re:Meh. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 16, 2010 @12:09PM (#33264598)

    The advantage of an adaptive keyboard would primarily be:

    Smaller size (you can change the keys themselves based on context so you need fewer actual keys to get the same functionality
    Brauder language support (make it easier to type charcters that aren't part of your native language but have those keys go away when you aren't using them)

    However if you could combine this with something like Apple's multi-touch trackpad you could have a dock/task bar, a small number of keys (say 4 lines worth) to provide the tactile feedback for typing, and a mouse/trackpad on a single surface that responds to gestures and can change based on context. it could concevably be the size of a normal keyboard (the function keys become the dock/ task bar, and the number pad becomes the track pad), wireless, and the only piece of input hardware needed for the majority of computing tasks.

  • by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @12:17PM (#33264676) Journal

    The whole point of the contest is to find a use for the keyboard. Perhaps you're not cut out for this sort of competition.

  • by JustinOpinion ( 1246824 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @12:47PM (#33265066)
    One use for that display area is for ambient data. There are things like the "ambient orb" that display the status of, say, the stock market using the color of the orb (you can buy the official ambient orb [] at a ridiculous price or build your own using some LEDs and an Arduino []...). It turns out that these kinds of peripheral information systems work quite well. You don't really ever look at them, but you're sufficiently aware of their status that you can react if something changes.

    There are a bunch of things you could turn into ambient data: stock market, weather predictions, calendar notifications, network traffic, server status, build status (some people hook them up to automatic test suites, so that a broken codebase is immediately apparent), and so on. The idea is to give the user information without demanding their focus/attention. It works quite well.
  • by PhreakinPenguin ( 454482 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @02:30PM (#33266352) Homepage Journal
    Somehow I think if this were released by someone more open source friendly, everyone here would be basking in how awesome it is. But since it's put out my Microsoft, everyone shits all over it. Way to never let me down Slashdot.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI