MS patents on-screen touch-type keyboard

MS patents on-screen touch-type keyboard

Microsoft's latest patent is for a rather neat system to make touch-typing on tablet devices with no physical keyboard a bit easier.

A new patent from those wily hackers over at Microsoft has revealed a neat idea to make touch-typing on a tablet screen that little bit more comfortable.

As detailed over on Gizmodo, the patent covers a rather novel way of addressing the issue that it's pretty much impossible - with no tactile feedback - to align your fingers to an on-screen keyboard without actually looking at what you're doing.

By using a multitouch-capable display, the patent details a system whereby the base of the hand resting on the screen is detected and used to align half of the keyboard in such a way that the fingers rest on the 'home' keys - a position familiar to any touch-typist worth his or her salt. The theory is that this gives you a static frame of reference no matter where on the device your hands are actually located - allowing for easy touch typing just like on a physical keyboard.

The patent also describes the use of the palm-detection capabilities to make actually firing up the on-screen keyboard easier, too: simply put your hands on the screen in the "I'm ready to type" position and up comes the keyboard.

The full patent also covers some neat scaling tricks, using the distance between the base of the hand and the tips of the fingers to adjust the size of the keyboard - meaning that users should never find themselves struggling to pick out individual keys or stretching too far to hit anything.

Let's just hope that the missing G key in the patent's illustrations is an oversight rather than flaw in the code behind the technology, or typing my name on a tablet is likely to get rather more difficult in the future.

Do you think that this could be the ultimate in on-screen keyboard technology for tablets, or does the concept still have a way to go before you'd be convinced? Share your thoughts over in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
steveo_mcg 28th September 2009, 14:49 Quote
Thats pretty neat, how long before either a patent troll pitches up with a suit or it turns out MS has pilfered some one elses patent and will buy them off with some scraps.
Cupboard 28th September 2009, 15:03 Quote
Clever, but I wouldn't agree with the hand positioning - either f and j or g and h for the "home" keys surely? I prefer g and h as then my fingers can find each other but thats just personal I suppose.
mi1ez 28th September 2009, 15:04 Quote
A good typist doesn't rest their wrists. Nice try though Microsoft!
Jenny_Y8S 28th September 2009, 15:20 Quote
Originally Posted by mi1ez
A good typist doesn't rest their wrists. Nice try though Microsoft!

What? Never heard of RSI?
perplekks45 28th September 2009, 15:20 Quote
Interesting. Will give this a try once it's actually affordable.
Bauul 28th September 2009, 15:22 Quote
Originally Posted by mi1ez
A good typist doesn't rest their wrists. Nice try though Microsoft!

A good typist won't extensively be using a tablet either. For the brief amounts of typing one does with a tablet, it seems like a step in the right direction.
mi1ez 28th September 2009, 15:22 Quote
Originally Posted by Jenny_Y8S
Originally Posted by mi1ez
A good typist doesn't rest their wrists. Nice try though Microsoft!

What? Never heard of RSI?

I work at a school and we teach touch typing. You shouldn't rest your wrists on the table.
mi1ez 28th September 2009, 15:26 Quote
ChaosDefinesOrder 28th September 2009, 15:27 Quote
why bother keeping the home row straight though? surely if they went through the effort of aligning the home row to the palm, they should also align the curvature with the natural curve that your fingers fall in too.

Personally, when I rest my fingers on a keyboard in their natural falling position, left hand is on CAPS Lock, W, E, F and right is on J, O, P, '/@ so an adaptive touch-typing "screenboard" (that should blatantly be trademarked as a new name for on-screen keyboards) should arrange the home-keys to that layout...
dyzophoria 28th September 2009, 15:36 Quote
i say that's really a nice idea.. , i can just imagine though getting used to for the first few tries,hehe
law99 28th September 2009, 15:45 Quote
Thanks areth
Gareth Halfacree 28th September 2009, 15:55 Quote
Originally Posted by law99
Thanks areth

I'm guessing they'd burned through the project's budget by the time it got to the illustrations...
alpaca 28th September 2009, 16:06 Quote
i really hope they have an azerty version of that...
Yoy0YO 28th September 2009, 16:33 Quote
I have to say tho, I have my right index finger on the j, then k then l then : which isnt what microsoft have in that one image there... hmmmm..
Tyinsar 28th September 2009, 17:08 Quote
This sounds like a combo of the Fingerworks keyboards and a touch screen (and perhaps that OLED keyboard). The only thing MS has added is adjusting the keyboard position relative to the palm detection. Hopefully that is all the patent protects - otherwise :(:( it's a stupid patent.
p3n 28th September 2009, 17:13 Quote
Im either a freak or microsoft forgot to check their hands, the inside of my hand touches the bottom of my keyboard but theres no way it could orientate 20+ keys from that...
DragunovHUN 28th September 2009, 17:21 Quote
That's pretty clever, but they better come out with a version that uses WASD as the centre, for us FPS junkies.
glaeken 28th September 2009, 18:22 Quote
With no feedback I'd think you'd still have to look at what you're doing.
raGe82 28th September 2009, 20:07 Quote
Honestly, I don't feel 'touch-typing' without feeling keys. My fingers touch 'home keys' every time I think what to type next, so how will this 'magical' keyboard know that I stopped writing and right now I have just started putting my fingers back onto the screen?
xprodancer 29th September 2009, 02:17 Quote
Originally Posted by law99
Thanks areth

How funny is that!!! LOL
Hawkest 29th September 2009, 11:10 Quote
I think as this is aimed at tablet users who wouldn't be doing a tremendous amount of typing this is a fantastic idea.

i'm sure that there will be plenty of mods to allow customisation of the key layout so that you can adjust it to how ever you'd prefer it.
Skill3d 29th September 2009, 20:29 Quote
as long as it has WSAD, ctrl, alt, shift and the space on the left side im all set... ;)
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