Touchscreens and air-gesture controls can really improve the workflow, but Microsoft intends to create a interface that brings together all of these along with typing.
Mechanical keyboards are about to be revolutionized by the Redmond giant. Touchscreens, no matter how convenient to use, are pretty expensive compared to their non-touch counterparts. Air mice might seem quicker and easier to use, but at some point people get tired of waving their hands in the air. Type-Hover-Swipe, the mechanical keyboard developed by Microsoft, takes bits from all of these devices and puts them together.
An experimental product, the Type-Hover-Swipe keyboard features a grid of IR motion sensors between the keys, so the gestures can be detected with great ease by the peripheral.
Microsoft hasn’t talked about mass producing this device, even though many of us would like to have it on our desks. The company admitted that the product is not perfect, in that there still are some delays between the air gestures and the actions that are taken. I’m not sure whether this is caused by the infrared motion sensors or by the software that interprets the gestures and turns them into actions.
Still, the Type-Hover-Swipe keyboard is accurate enough for basic games. In the following video you can see users mimicking that they’re holding a steering wheel in their hands while playing a racing game. By the looks of it, the peripheral is quite precise in interpreting the gestures of the driver.
So what exactly can be done using the Type-Hover-Swipe keyboard? Well, besides typing, which is quite an obvious feature, people can also pinch-to-zoom, scroll long documents and Web pages, as well as switch between applications.
An interesting aspect is the size of this keyboard. There’s no numeric pad, and even if there were, the device wouldn’t be any thicker. Of course, as it is, the keyboard would make an ideal peripheral for desktop PCs, but I’m going to take this even further and say that Microsoft could implement it in notebooks. Laptops with touchscreens are no longer a novelty, so it was about time someone thought of changing how people interact with their portable computers. Such a change could lead to innovations in the design of notebooks, as the touchpad would become obsolete. Of course, people would also have to think about how much the infrared motion sensors cost, in case they break down.