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Microsoft's Adaptive Touchscreen Keyboard

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the get-some-research-on dept.

Microsoft 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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77 comments

Seen before ... (1, Informative)

Misagon (1135) | more than 3 years ago | (#33263734)

Haven't we seen this before?

I'm not only referring to having seen this kind of technology in a keyboard [artlebedev.com] before.

I am also asking, have we not seen before, time and time again, Microsoft copying someone else's technology and claiming it to be their own major exclusive new super-invention? ...

Re:Seen before ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33263804)

Hardware: Microsoft's Adaptive Touchscreen Keyboard

I don't want anything from M$ that is "adaptive" anywhere around me. You saw what happened to these guys. [wikipedia.org] No thanks, Mickeysquish!

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

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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 ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33263822)

It actually has a large LCD under the keyboard instead of dozens of little screens, making it a whole lot cheaper and more practical than the Optimus.

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

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Seen before ... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33263890)

Yes, this is similar except the Optimus keyboard's keys each contain a small OLED. Microsoft uses a full display under a transparent keyboard. So, while not quite unique in nature it should be much cheaper and easily manufactured than the Optimus.

Again, this is only MS Research so chances are like most projects, consumers will not see it.

Re:Seen before ... (4, Interesting)

counterplex (765033) | more than 3 years ago | (#33263972)

So kind of like the optimus tactus? http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus-tactus/ [artlebedev.com]

Re:Seen before ... (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264172)

I want one...unfortunately still just a concept.

Re:Seen before ... (2, Informative)

wed128 (722152) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264214)

Kind of like that, except with transparent mechanical keys sitting on top.

Re:Seen before ... (1)

bagsta (1562275) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264232)

I find it very impressive, but as I can see it's a concept ... for the time being... But I would like to see in production...

Re:Seen before ... (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264338)

not really.. the MS one has an actually keyboard (moving keys) that one is nothing but a big touch screen.

Re:Seen before ... (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264352)

When it remains a keyboard that looks like a keyboard, except it can change between character sets, there's not that much functionality gained.

The optimus tactus shows the keyboard playing back video- which IMO, although cool, misses the point. A keyboard is, after all, an *input* device!

But there are situations in which an adaptive touchscreen keyboard could have serious uses. In medical environments (a smooth, easy-clean surface is less likely to pass on germs); in audio (showing faders on the keyboard rather than buttons makes it more friendly than either a regular keyboard or a mouse) and I'm quite sure that those are just the tip of the iceberg.

My main concern, though, is that drivers are going to be an issue. Currently, if I need a monitor or a keyboard, I can pretty much walk into any random shop, get any random monitor or keyboard and it will work without requiring device-specific drivers. If the MS keyboard simply exports a USB keyboard (and/or mouse) device+USB video device: no problem. But somehow I suspect that this fancy-schmancy MS keyboard is going to require proprietary drivers.

Re:Seen before ... (1)

counterplex (765033) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264516)

The optimus tactus shows the keyboard playing back video- which IMO, although cool, misses the point. A keyboard is, after all, an *input* device!

While this is true, there's no reason that future input paradigms will conform to the ones you're used to.

Re:Seen before ... (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33273628)

Yes, but this one seems to be easy to manufacture. The biggest manufacturing problem with the keyboard is probably the protection of the screen underneath, and the focus on the keys itself. Obviously, it would have been better looking if they used the Apple style kind of keys instead of the normal large black ones found on most other keyboards. But other than that, this seems to be a cheap touch sensitive LCD with a keyboard on top.

As for the use, I am not sure that a normal (widescreen) LCD is the way to go. I'm even more sure that I would hate the light emission from the screen. Maybe they should include a method of turning the back light on and off - e.g. when touch typing is detected or when no keys are hit, turn everything off. The problem with many innovations like this is that researchers are too focused on the new technology to let it blend in well.

Re:Seen before ... (1)

Kalidor (94097) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264048)

Here I was hoping this is a production ready next step to what the Fingerwork's touchstream should have been in it's next iteration. I can only hope this will come to pass as there has only been backwards movement on that technology since the company was bought out.

Re:Seen before ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33267594)

Again, this is only MS Research so chances are like most projects, consumers will not see it.

Except this is pretty similar to the adaptive virtual keyboard in Windows Mobile. On my old axim with Win Mobile 5, it looks fairly similar, including touchscreen and adaptive keys.. It has been around for a while. For instance, pressing Caps will change all keys to uppercase; same for shift key...

The novelty here may be that MS is trying to extend the system in other ways-- multilingual support, matching active shortcuts.

Re: its great an all but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33277388)

When will they actually consider ergonomics and stop using typewriter style key positioning?

Re:Seen before ... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33264030)

Posted anonymously to avoid... I dunno, getting fired or something. (Actually, I doubt its a problem to say I've used these before, but better safe than sorry ...)

I've seen these a few times, and they're really nothing like the OLED-based keyboards. They type far more nicely, they are vastly cheaper to produce, and add a bunch of other capabilities I won't risk getting into, just not knowing what is public and not ...

But suffice it to say, its nothing like the various keyboard designs with a screen per key.

Re:Seen before ... (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264208)

I touch type without looking at the keys. Further, with my hands over the keyboard I can see maybe 1/4th of the available keys. Can you comment on how variable key labels might still be useful? Or is this the sort of thing that is useful primarily for new users?

Re:Seen before ... (1)

5865 (104259) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264446)

Might be useful for shortcut keys like when you're using Photoshop or Illustrator.

The available hotkeys change contexts when you press ctrl/shift/alt and also on where the focus is on, what mode you're in, etc.

You can even have the entire toolbox on the keyboard so you can have extra horizontal space on the screen (a bit meh to be frank since it's vertical space we're more likely to be wanting especially since the 1080 HD scourge).

Re:Seen before ... (2, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264514)

It makes for a self-documenting keyboard interface, as is shown in the video where the guy hits the Windows Key (it could have been ALT, CTRL, or CTRL-SHIFT, etc..) and all the keys but those tied to commands go dark, and the ones tied to commands label themselves with what the command available actually is.

Looks like the future to me.

Re:Seen before ... (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264582)

Do you switch between Latin-1 and Cyrillic or Japanese? Do you play any games that bind actions to the keyboard in a non mnemonic way? On the other hand, touch typing "Quake" probably isn't that difficult to learn.

Re:Seen before ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33266406)

Its both variable key labels, and a wide panel-based touch screen above it -- the key labels are not all that handy for experienced users, but the touch screen space above it is. (You can see it in the video, so again I think I'm okay talking about it ...)

Re:Seen before ... (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264276)

Who did Microsoft steal Kinect from?

Re:Seen before ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33264530)

No one. Its called business...

Nintendo truned down the Project Natal tech in '07 from a company called 3DV Systems. MS then picked it up for the 360 a year later.

Re:Seen before ... (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 3 years ago | (#33268058)

Prior art indeed. But as usual Microsoft will bring it to the masses at a cheaper price but lower quality.

so microsoft reinvented the wheel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33263756)

its just a Optimus Maximus Keyboard, thats smaller, and got a touch screen on top, and theres not a whole lot of inovation you can do with a fixed keyboard, even if it is "adaptive"

Re:so microsoft reinvented the wheel (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264052)

Still isn't as cool as the ant farm keyboard! Now that had promise.

Re:so microsoft reinvented the wheel (1)

5865 (104259) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264912)

Yea, that keyboard built up my vocabulary significantly as I adapt my word choice to maximum/minimum ant kills depending on my mood for the day.

Enter By Tomorrow (4, Informative)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 3 years ago | (#33263834)

From the contest website:

The goal of the contest is to develop new interactions on unique hardware that you cannot get anywhere else. We supply you with the special hardware and you show us how innovative you can be with it. ... To reserve a place in the contest and to receive an Adaptive keyboard for development, contestants must submit an entry email to the contest chair no later than August 17th, 2010.

You also have to return the keyboard by October, so it's not yours forever. http://www.acm.org/uist/uist2010/Student_Contest.html [acm.org]

So when you press... (5, Funny)

Arrepiadd (688829) | more than 3 years ago | (#33263842)

So when you press Ctrl+Alt the entire keyboard suddenly changes into a big "Delete"?

Re:So when you press... (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264086)

You could probably make it do that if you really wanted it to.

Re:So when you press... (1)

Sylak (1611137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264472)

Sounds more like a fun virus to write ;)

Re:So when you press... (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 3 years ago | (#33268096)

Given it is a "pre-release" product the keyboard will probably turn blue. BKOD = Blue Key of Death.

Re:So when you press... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33268926)

Emacs would be either painful or sweet on that keyboard.

Great: Now Microslop Users Can Face The +1, Good (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33263860)

BLUE_ADAPTIVE_TOUCHSCREEN_OF_DEATH !

Yours In Domododevo,
Kilgore Trout, C.I.O.

Yet again Microsoft does not get it... (-1, Troll)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 3 years ago | (#33263916)

So I am watching the video and cannot stop thinking, "man do I really want that big huge honken thing on my desk"

If Microsoft was really smart they would have asked, "hey see we have 3 rows of keys, show us what you can do..."

Instead we have a revival of Egyptian hieroglyphics...

Good going Microsoft, and I am sure you are going to patent this...

Meh. (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 3 years ago | (#33263998)

Explain to me how this is gonna make my Vi editor sessions more productive, and I'll be ready to listen. 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. Unless you reach that zen level where you stop thinking "Copy the line...press YY..." to just doing it without thinking, then there's not much to be gained.

Re:Meh. (4, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#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. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Meh. (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264642)

Explain to me how this is gonna make my Vi editor sessions more productive

You'll need to write the kernel driver first, and you'll probably need to write some applications. Hopefully, the long hours of coding will inspire a use for it.

Perhaps you could try your hand at some APL?

Re:Meh. (1)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264782)

Well you're right that this isn't useful with respect to applications you master. But, the fact is that we're all novices with respect to the software we don't use all the time. And we all interact with a lot of software day-to-day that we shouldn't really need to become experts in.

To give a random example, I was doing video editing awhile back. I'm not a professional video editor, nor is video editing really a hobby of mine. But I needed to do some fairly involved editing as a one-time thing. I was obviously not great at using the software, and was slowly learning it as I went along. It would have been immensely useful to have the shortcut keys written directly on the keyboard. It would have helped me learn them (was F3 or F4 the shortcut I wanted?) and makes the interface more discoverable.

Again, I think it's worth remembering how much software you use in a given day that you're not an expert in (nor do you want to become an expert). If you use a CD burning app once every couple of months, you won't be a whizz with all the keyboard shortcuts (nor should you spend the time to become one!)... but if the keyboard added a big and bright "BURN CD" button right on your keyboard when you switch to that app... that would be rather useful. Multiply that by the dozens of apps and wizards you use day-to-day that you are not an expert in... and there are serious usability advantages.

Now, I'm not sure whether this usability boost will be worth the cost of such fancy keyboards (there might even be usability downsides, like splitting the user's attention, information overload, acting as a crutch preventing them from memorizing shortcuts, etc.)... but it's certainly worth researching.

Re:Meh. (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264830)

It is going to be useful in the EXACT same way that a keyboard with letters printed on it is useful. Certainly, anyone willing to learn would learn a product well enough to be good at it, will just learn where all the letters are on the keyboard without them being printed. Ok, that was a little snarky, but it is still true. Printing on keyboards is there for those that are not typing by muscle memory. While you will not be better with Vi, I might give Vi a chance if I don't have to have a manual next to me to figure out what the key combination are for. I can tell you that an immediate use I would have for that keyboard is for playing with all of the emulators that I like to use. While I usually remember that the " key for the C-64 is mapped to the ] key on my PC keyboard, and the * key is mapped to the @ key, I don't always, and less used key combination are even harder to remember. I still don't use a bunch of the key combos on my Mac because they are different than on my PC, and I can never remember which of the Mac alternative keys are mapped to the PC alternative keys on the keyboard.

Re:Meh. (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 3 years ago | (#33265172)

Explain to me how this is gonna make my Vi editor sessions more productive, and I'll be ready to listen.

It probably wouldn't make your vi sessions more productive, but it might make vi accessible enough for people like me to use it. I hate vi and emacs and have for literally decades because their UI is intentionally non-accessible. I shouldn't need a printout with instructions to use a text editor. That's why I've always used pico/nano on Unix and Linux.

Re:Meh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33266974)

Explain to me how this is gonna make my Vi editor sessions more productive

We'll bundle it with a copy of Emacs.

Re:Meh. (1)

Snowmit (704081) | more than 3 years ago | (#33267986)

By your hilarious logic, keyboards should come completely unlabelled, because any labelling is just a crutch for people who are too lazy to learn to touch-type.

There are tonnes of applications for a self documenting input device, the least of which is preventing needless staring at a manual while you learn a new program's interface.

The important point though is that this is an innovation contest. Thousands of students will spend more time thinking about this than you did before dismissing it and it's highly likely that some of them will come up with something really cool.

But yes, it probably won't help you to get better at using the software to which you are already zenly attuned.

Re:Meh. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#33269040)

Explain to me how this is gonna make my Vi editor sessions more productive, and I'll be ready to listen.

When you hit Escape, the various keys that don't mean anything are greyed out, and the ones that do are labeled with their function. If you're not looking at them, it won't affect you at all. If you forget what key you wanted to press next, you can simply move your hands and look down. If you're using an unfamiliar application, the benefit is obviously magnified.

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.

It's also a crutch which can support you until you learn it well enough to be good at it, or in cases where you don't have time to be good at it.

P.S. YouTube isn't working in Chromium for me right now so I didn't even bother to watch the video. I use vi, but I still have an imagination, so I don't think that is your problem... although I certainly don't know every feature, so I sometimes use vim which has labeled menuing.

Am I supposed to look at a keyboard, or not? (1)

CanisMajor (551555) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264024)

This is weird. If this is just a keyboard, and I should be focusing my attention on a monitor, then all the eye candy on the keyboard is really a fail. Switching keyboards on the fly is pretty cool, but then the upper screen should be chopped off and the keyboard made smaller.

BUT if there is no monitor, then I have 3/4 of a touchpad devoted to a keyboard, and I can't see a lot of my work above.

Even the Timex Sinclair had a better viewing area: typing area ratio. The keyboard takes two tasks and makes them harder.

Re:Am I supposed to look at a keyboard, or not? (3, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 [ambientdevices.com] at a ridiculous price or build your own using some LEDs and an Arduino [google.com] ...). 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.

innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33264046)

This is classic example of coming up with something and then seeking utility for it..

Re:innovation (0, Troll)

Windows Breaker G4 (939734) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264474)

Yup, that's what it is a worthless piece of hardware.

Productivity inc. with pictures, really? (1)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264054)

So by looking on the keyboard instead of the screen I now somehow get a productivity increase? How? Isn't the hand in the way somehow? Also, how do I know what I did? Do I have to watch up and down all the time?

Also, I can think it's horribly painful after a while to watch 30 degrees down all the time on your neck.

I think this could be fun for a 5 year old though.

Press any key... (1)

JoosepN (1847126) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264060)

No more trouble finding the any key... it will just turn into one which you can slam with your head.

Just weird this is considered innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33264112)

This is the weirdest thing I've ever seen. Since I first encountered a computer, looking at the keyboard is what has kept my eyes off my work, not the other way around.

Anyway, I don't see how this strip above the keyboard is too different from a ribbon on the bottom of the screen.

LCARS? (1)

masdog (794316) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264188)

Please tell me that I'm not the only person who thought about LCARS [wikipedia.org] from Star Trek when watching the video. I can see that sort of utility in an industrial environment where your input device changes based on the screen your viewing.

A compromise that does nothing particularly well. (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264190)

The only advantage a keyboard has is that you can use it by feel. This keyboard constantly changes based on context and you have to keep looking at it to see what mode it's in and what options you have. You look at the keyboard, you press a button. Something changes on the screen, you look at the screen. Then you look at the buttons again. Then you press another button. Then you look at the screen again... It's horrible UI design, not to mention ergonomics. If you're going to have a fancy dynamic interface, make it capable enough that you can manipulate objects without constantly referring to another display.

With tactile touchscreens [slashdot.org] and smarter virtual keyboards [slashdot.org] on the way, I think true touchscreens are the future of input and a gussied-up mechanical keyboard like this is a dead end. It's too expensive and not capable enough.

Now, if they decided to replace the *mouse* with an iPad-sized trackpad that doubles as a touchscreen work area, then I'd get excited.

Re:A compromise that does nothing particularly wel (2, Insightful)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264676)

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.

Re:A compromise that does nothing particularly wel (0, Troll)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264940)

It's likely to cost much more than a real keyboard,

Be slower than a real keyboard,

Cannot be touchtyped (no feedback)

So all the downsides of a touchscreen interface with none of the advantages ....

The Optimus keyboard had the right idea - real keyboard with reconfigurable labels ,,,,

Re:A compromise that does nothing particularly wel (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33265032)

"A compromise that does nothing particularly well."

See why it fits so well in MS's portfolio? ;-)

Re:A compromise that does nothing particularly wel (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 3 years ago | (#33265218)

You look at the keyboard, you press a button. Something changes on the screen, you look at the screen. Then you look at the buttons again. Then you press another button. Then you look at the screen again... It's horrible UI design, not to mention ergonomics.

Meanwhile, back in the traditional keyboard world, when someone is learning a new application, they look at the manual, then look at the keyboard, and press a button. Something changes on the screen, and they look at the manual, then the screen, then the manual, then the keyboard, and press another button.

A reconfigurable keyboard cuts out the middleman of the documentation when learning a new application. It's not for people who already know every keyboard shortcut in every application they use.

I'm Curious (1)

HogGeek (456673) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264296)

Are there a lot of (work?) places where everybody speaks a different language, but nobody speaks a common one?

That's about the only place I would see any real usefulness...

This is the right way to do a dynamic keyboard (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33264504)

The optimus was a really cool concept but no one bought them because it was so expensive to a have a separate OLED per key! Also, the design led to some very hard keys that were not great for typing. This project allows for the same kind of customization and dynamic features that the optimus offered at what I can only guess as a fraction of the cost.

IRONY ALERT! (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264512)

They'll patent this "innovation" out the wazoo, balls up their own implementation, and then in five years sue Apple when they steal a ten year old Japanese implementation of it. Lawyerzoid, I choose you!

bad requirements? short notice (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#33264610)

FTFA:
http://www.acm.org/uist/uist2010/Student_Contest.html [acm.org]
The current requirements for running the keyboard are below:
1. A computer running Windows Vista or Windows 7. 32-bit only.


So you're required to be nerdy enough to want to enter this this contest and create a demo of your idea, but noob enough to still be running 32-bit? Half of Windows 7 PCs run the 64-bit version [neowin.net]

"To reserve a place in the contest and to receive an Adaptive keyboard for development, contestants must submit an entry email to the contest chair no later than August 17th, 2010."

Not much notice /.!

Re:bad requirements? short notice (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33265380)

So you're required to be nerdy enough to want to enter this this contest and create a demo of your idea, but noob enough to still be running 32-bit?

If you are running Windows, you're not a true nerd anyway. :-)

"To reserve a place in the contest and to receive an Adaptive keyboard for development, contestants must submit an entry email to the contest chair no later than August 17th, 2010."

Not much notice /.!

Slashdot readers are expected to be able to invent and code something innovative in a single night. ;-)

Re:bad requirements? short notice (1)

Omestes (471991) | more than 3 years ago | (#33268134)

If you are running Windows, you're not a true nerd anyway. :-)

I'd say that your not a true nerd if your running any single OS. Granted, in a OS monoculture Windows might be the least nerdy (though OS X might be, depending on how you look at it), but a true nerd should be playing the field, using the strengths of each OS.

I have an OS X media box, a Windows gaming rig, and an Ubuntu (for now, trying to find the time to find a better distro) work horse laptop.

To make this even sillier (it is an OS pissing contest, silly is the name of the game): Lets say Linux has a nerd value (NV) of 1*, OS X has a NV .5, and Windows has one of .3. Thus a person only running Linux can only ever achieve an NV of 1, where someone multi-OSing can achieve a value of 1.8, which is nerdier than a mere 1.

*Though I'd say more esoteric OSs are worth more, so perhaps a person only using an old Amiga for all their computing needs might beat someone using using all three OSs.

Another solution in search of a problem (1)

John_3000 (166166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33265816)

Jeez. They're actually having a contest to try and find something useful to do with this thing.

It's really true: once institutions gets big enough all they can manage are incremental improvements. Game changing breakthroughs, should they accidently arise internally, are actively put down by beneficiaries of the status quo.

Why not work toward solving a known problem like, say, the miserable state of mobile input technology. The main reason you can't do as much on a smart phone as you can on a desktop computer is your lousy phone keyboard.

10/gui (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33266102)

10/gui anyone?

http://10gui.com/video/

Wow, Partisanship at it's finest (3, Insightful)

PhreakinPenguin (454482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33266352)

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.

Re:Wow, Partisanship at it's finest (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33266676)

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.

Hm. Where's your evidence for Slashdot attacking this Microsoft research idea? I do agree that if you surf at -1, you'll see plenty of rapidbly anti-Microsoft statements, and comments amounting to "this is stupid". But that's true if you look at the comments to any Slashdot story. (A story about FOSS with have plenty of "Open source sucks!" comments.)

A better representation of what Slashdot considers credible is the highly-rated comments. As of right now (2:50 pm EST), there are 8 comments with a score of 3 or higher. They are:
1. Re:Seen before ... (Score:3, Insightful) [slashdot.org] : A clarification, neither pro-MS or anti-MS.
2. Re:Seen before ... (Score:5, Interesting) [slashdot.org] : Clarification of difference between this device and Optimus keyboard. Could be viewed as defending the novelty of MS research.
3. Re:Seen before ... (Score:3, Interesting) [slashdot.org] : Suggesting that the MS keyboard is similar to one of the Optimus keyboards. Not a direct attack against MS, but could be interpreted as questioning the novelty of MS research.
4. Re:Seen before ... (Score:3, Interesting) [slashdot.org] : Describing a possible use for the keyboard. Ends with "Looks like the future to me". Clearly excited about the idea.
5. Enter By Tomorrow (Score:5, Informative) [slashdot.org] : Pointing out that the deadline is tomorrow. Just informative.
6. So when you press... (Score:4, Funny) [slashdot.org] : Making fun of the constant need of reboost on Windows. Clearly poking fun at MS, but not really denigrating this particular research. (And obviously just a joke.)
7. Re:Meh. (Score:4, Insightful) [slashdot.org] : Defending the utility and novelty of this research idea.
8. Re:Am I supposed to look at a keyboard, or not? (Score:3, Interesting) [slashdot.org] : Defending the potential utility of this research idea.

So, of those 8 comments, 4 are "positive" (defending the novelty, talking excitedly about possibilities, etc.), 2 are "negative" (claiming that the research is in some way bad), and 2 are neutral. Given that 50% of the highly-rated comments are positive, I don't see how you can claim that "everyone" is attacking this idea just because it comes from Microsoft. So far, the debate seems pretty balanced.

Slashdot is far from perfect, and debates here certainly become skewed. But it is not as universally lopsided as is often claimed. The community is fully able to appreciate good ideas, regardless of where they come from.

Star Wars at middle age (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 3 years ago | (#33266598)

You know how stupid Buck Rogers looked to you when you were a kid? That's how stupid Star Wars looks to your kids.

a problem in search of a solution (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#33266826)

Is this contest what I think it is? A way to come up with ideas about how to market this hardware?

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't diss this keyboard just because it's from MS. I am using Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 v.1, because it has a nice curve up, I type faster with it for real, the insert/home/page up are in one row and under those there are the delete/end/page down and the arrows are correctly underneath that, up is on top, and the three other arrows are in one correct row. Why is all of this important? Because I use the old Borland style shortcuts to cut/copy/insert/delete, most people I worked with can't do any of that as fast, the only problem is that it requires me to release control to select row up or down, the rest is correct.

I can at the very least see how an adaptive keyboard like that can be useful for specialty applications, with key labels changing for every application.

However there are other possibilities, how about taking an image (a picture) and putting a grid on top of it and thus splitting the image into a bunch of rectangles, and then each rectangle has its own part of the image on top of it. Now you can chose parts of the image by touching the correct keys.

Of-course changing from one language to another is obvious.

How about using it to play music, drawing a piano keyboard over the keys?

Things are possible, it's just the contest looks like it is a search of a problem for their solution to use that for marketing.

Congratz (1)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 3 years ago | (#33267508)

Way to re-invent a 20+ year old interpretation of (off the top of my head for the MTV generation):
A: The desk keyboard in Tron
B: The LCARS interface from Star Trek.

I must go back to a very old quote:
"There is noting more amusing then some young kid discovering something old, thinking it's new...."

Broken Link Fix (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#33268712)

A correct link for the article above is here [microsoft.com] .

Re:Broken Link Fix (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#33268732)

Ignore that, it seems to be a problem with Microsoft's site not actually fetching the page requested every so often. Sorry for the confusion. (Also, yes I notice it's the same link now haha)

As a learning tool, good; productivity tool, not (1)

CityZen (464761) | more than 3 years ago | (#33269944)

As others have pointed out, this isn't so great for productivity, since you must now change your gaze between screens all the time. However, as a tool to help you learn keyboard shortcuts, it's pretty nice.

The productivity tool that might be interesting is a keyboard where, when you hit a special key, converts all the keytops into a large touchpad of sorts for moving the cursor.

But really, what apps need most is just a truly well thought out keyboard interface. Most developers either rely too much on WIMP or the mere fact that some keyboard shortcut may exist, regardless of how difficult to use it may be. For example, using tab/shift-tab as the only way of moving around 100 different selections isn't practical.

Microsoft fails again to make ACTUAL products... (0, Troll)

dafing (753481) | more than 3 years ago | (#33272142)

I have a Windows developer friend (we all have one), and every now and then he'll come up with some hair brained tweet/email, "see, look at the cool stuff Microsoft is doing!" I got glowing reviews of the Zune, Vista, that Songsmith thing, Surface....and now THIS keyboard... He also informs me the new Internet Explorer is going to "kick ass!" and Windows Phone 7 is "amazing"...

Meanwhile, after spending who knows what into crap like the Zune, Surface and now THIS, why is none of it made into something SUCCESSFUL? Microsoft sees touch sensitive (even if its a strip) screens, and gives the world THIS, or the Surface... meanwhile, Apple, Google, they give us iPhones, iPads and Android devices which are (not quite) literally flying off the shelves!

I'm actually embarrassed for Microsoft at this point, what the hell is wrong with that company? They cant even make quick knockoffs anymore.
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