Microsoft's Infrared Keyboard Gives Gesture Control to an Average PC

Your laptop's trackpad gestures are great, but they make your desktop computer's keyboard-and-mouse combo feel old-fashioned. Microsoft's prototype keyboard changes that, cramming infrared sensors between the keys to allow hand gesture control without ever leaving the home keys.

The 64 infrared proximity sensors powering the prototype keyboard have a very low resolution, but with a super-fast refresh rate of 300Hz, they can track rapid hand movement without difficulty. As seen in the video above, the keyboard (which looks like an Apple, rather than Microsoft product) recognizes swipe-to-scroll, pinch-to-zoom, and gestures to switch between programs.

Illustration for article titled Microsoft's Infrared Keyboard Gives Gesture Control to an Average PC

The research project, "Type-Hover-Swipe in 96 Bytes," was presented at this week's Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Toronto. While Microsoft doesn't indicate any concrete plans for production, it definitely looks more practical than Leap Motion, which seemed super-cool, but ended up being kind of clunky in real-world use. In the future, your keyboard will be your mouse. [Microsoft Research via The Verge]

GIF by Andrew Liszewski via YouTube, image: Microsoft Research


The problem with stuff like this is: even though it looks like a great idea, it is (still) to inprecise and require to much movement. Most of those things (like scrolling) I can do much more efficiently with a tiny, quick movement of a single finger using a mouse.

So, cool stuff, but let's wait and see if the greater public adopts it.