Instead of having to play a tiny version of Twister with your fingers to press multiple keys for capital letters, symbols, or other shortcuts, the Finger-Aware keyboard watches your hands so that the keys on your laptop’s keyboard respond differently depending on what finger you’re using.

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Developed by Jingjie Zheng and Professor Daniel Vogel of the University of Waterloo’s Cheriton School of Computer Science, these Finger-Aware Shortcuts will do far more than just eliminate the need for pressing Shift to capitalize a letter—which admittedly isn’t that much of a struggle.

Using a simple angled mirror that allows a laptop’s built-in camera to see its keyboard, the Finger-Aware Shortcuts don’t require any special modifications to the computer’s hardware. It’s all driven by software, which uses intelligent image processing to not only determine which finger is pressing which key, but also the shape and positions of the user’s hands.

Knowing how a single key is being pressed allows for countless different results. Pressing the letter ‘G’ with the index finger on your left hand would work as a keyboard normally does, but pressing it with the index finger on your right could instead launch a Google search.

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Each key could be configured to do whatever you want it to. Some pixel pushers rely on Photoshop’s keyboard shortcuts for maximum speed and efficiency, but this approach could further improve their workflow. And all you’d need is a software update, and a cheap 3D-printed mirror sitting on top of your laptop’s screen. It’s a potentially transformative technology for graphic designers and even regular cubicle monkeys—so let’s hope the researchers are keen on commercializing their creation.

[Jingjie Zheng via Gizmag]