×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Microsoft Patents Foot Computing

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the prior-art-your-butt dept.

Microsoft 107

theodp writes "Microsoft Research has made it possible for a mother to surf the web while nursing her newborn, thanks to its newly-patented 'foot-based user interface' (FUI?). 'In addition to causing health problems,' explains Microsoft in the patent, 'the traditional keyboard and mouse interface can be simply inconvenient in certain situations as well. In one instance, a mother with a baby in her arms is unable to easily perform simple tasks, such as checking email, on a computer.' Users of the 'Foot-Based Interface for Interacting With a Computer,' however, will be able to move their feet and step on the floor a la DDR to execute various commands, such as deleting email or scrolling down the screen. Due to the usual foot-dragging on the part of the USPTO, the patent — filed for in 2006 — was essentially obsolete by the time it was issued on Tuesday, a week after Microsoft's Kinect launch."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

107 comments

Kinesis Foot Switch (4, Informative)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198168)

Forgot about these?

Savant Elite Programmable USB Foot Switches

http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/fs-savant-elite.htm [kinesis-ergo.com]

Re:Kinesis Foot Switch (3, Funny)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198546)

Forgot? Heavens no. They're first on our list of companies to extort for intellectual property that we now own.

Re:Kinesis Foot Switch (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198622)

Read the patent. The patent speaks about electromagnetic waves not switches. YOu need to use light or IR (kinect uses IR)

Re:Kinesis Foot Switch (2, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34199534)

Read the patent. The patent speaks about electromagnetic waves not switches. YOu need to use light or IR (kinect uses IR)

So then its KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex all over again. Anyone schooled in the art would swap one signaling layer for another in a heartbeat (radio for wires), and having wireless keyboards for years means no one would come out with new devices requiring wires when a simple USB/Bluetooth dongle would suffice.

I still say this goes down upon first challenge.

Re:Kinesis Foot Switch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34199602)

IR *is* light, doofus.

Re:Kinesis Foot Switch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34199728)

Isn't IR a colour?

Infrared light is light. Nobody would say that red is light...

Re:Kinesis Foot Switch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34199180)

My car also allows me to navigate using my feet.

More Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34199256)

Would that one time I kicked a Windows computer in frustration count as prior art?

Windows. (2, Funny)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198170)

The next time Windows crashes on me, I will demonstrate another foot-based input method, until nothing is left but bits and pieces.

Re:Windows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34198346)

Lol! Your windows still crashes? Maybe it's your fault.

Re:Windows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34199228)

Yeah this wouldn't happen if you never turned the machine on.

Re:Windows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34198988)

With the foot-based input method the familiar blue screen will be replaced by a text box with red letters and a flashing red border saying "Guru meditation [wikipedia.org]."

For those the wiki article is tl;dr, the Guru Meditation system error on the Amiga was derived from an early Amiga, Inc. product called the Joyboard, a foot-based input device; in-house the devs dev'd an app where they had to sit on the joyboard cross-legged without moving akin to a Guru.

Prior art (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198214)

I suppose this means that my MIDI expression pedal [wikipedia.org] is going to shoot up to $200 due to cross licensing. To say nothing of my PI Engineering foot controller [piengineering.com] that I use to switch editing controls in Pro Tools.

Re:Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34198342)

I'm curious how you think that a simple pedal is prior art for a camera-based foot tracking mechanism that allows for complex gestures. Are stone wheels prior art for hybrid cars? Elevator buttons prior art for iPad multitouch LCD screens? Same argument.

Another patent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34198218)

Perhaps, they may also patent the tarsal tunnel syndrome (or the like, I'm not a doctor)?

Oh noes!!! The Blue Foot of Death! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34198234)

It's going to look just like a Monty Python cartoon.

Alright look here, internet (2, Funny)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198266)

I've heard of "one handed typing", but if you have to get your feet, both hands and a baby involved, seek therapy.

Re:Alright look here, internet (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 3 years ago | (#34199260)

Actually I always thought this would be a great way to mess with people. "Look, my computer is possessed!"

Good on Microsoft (4, Funny)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198282)

Finally a patent I can agree with. This is some innovative work. Just this morning while driving to work I was thinking "gee, I wish my feet could be used to control something.. too bad nobody has invented foot based controls"

Re:Good on Microsoft (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198362)

They have. I've personally seen a foot-operated keyboard and mouse setup on a Mac in 1988 for a person without the ability to use the regular hand-operated input devices.

DDR controls are too clumsy, what WOULD be clever is a mini-kinetic operated by toes, one hand, or a little puppet. This is a job for the maker-monkeys. Now fly, fly!

Re:Good on Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34200576)

wwhooooossshh

About time! (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198308)

Finally, MS is finding a way to elimiate all those pesky quiet moments so they can be filled with email and web browsing. I look forward to Meditation Computing.

If you just gotta.... (2, Insightful)

gmac63 (12603) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198332)

You gotta be some seriously pathetic Internet Junkie if you can't tear yourself away from surfing the web while taking care of a baby. Sad. REALLY freakin' sad people.

-WY

Re:If you just gotta.... (2, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198680)

You gotta be some seriously pathetic Internet Junkie if you can't tear yourself away from surfing the web while taking care of a baby. Sad. REALLY freakin' sad people.

That's one way to look at it. Another, better way to look at it is that now people can spend more time taking care of their babies than they do currently, without sacrificing their work productivity.

Re:If you just gotta.... (1)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34199524)

I often find my hands busy while surfing the internet. A foot mouse would be great while surfing and, erm how to put it, not making babies.

Re:If you just gotta.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34200748)

Do you know how insanely boring it is to sit in a rocking chair and stare at a wall for 8 hours a day to breastfeed your baby? I've gotten quite far in Angry Birds on my iPhone in the 10 weeks since my son was born. I would kill for a full computer I could operate without my hands.

Can't Microsoft Convert to the Metric System? (0, Redundant)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198348)

Computing using feet is just not good. They should go with metric measurements to maintain compatibility with international standards.

What? They mean actual feet? Oh... nevermind....

Foot dragging (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198356)

I suppose it's foot-dragging when you want the patent to be granted, and thoroughness when you don't want it to be granted.

Good story about a young kid and Kinect (2, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198394)

http://www.gamingnexus.com/FullNews/I-think-Kinect-is-OK2c-but-its-the-best-24150-I-spent-on-a-console/Item20369.aspx [gamingnexus.com]

One of the areas I figured Kinect would excel would be in rehabilitation and those who cannot use normal input devices. Seems this guy's kid is a great example of it. Controllers for the most part are just wrong. The Wii came close but the feel is broken as many times the motions one makes with the controller don't match up well if at all with on screen action.

So, yeah, this MS patent is a bit old, out of date, whatever. It is just more of programmers and such learning how people can, will, and do, interface with computers. the keyboard and mouse have got to go one day.

Prior Art! Prior Art! (3, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198454)

Please read the actual patent claims themselves before declaring prior art. The fact that the Slashdot headline boldly proclaims "Microsoft Patents Foot Computing" doesn't mean that the patent covers every manifestation of foot-controlled computing. Every single time a patent is discussed in Slashdot, we go through the same song and dance about how there's prior art. And yes, I know it's Slashdot and nobody actually reads the primary sources, but jeez, it gets old.

For a readable primer on how the US patent system works, read Schechter and Thomas' Principles of Patent Law [thomson.com]

Re:Prior Art! Prior Art! (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34199168)

Please read the actual patent claims themselves before declaring prior art. The fact that the Slashdot headline boldly proclaims "Microsoft Patents Foot Computing" doesn't mean that the patent covers every manifestation of foot-controlled computing.

No, it just means Microsoft will be able to plausibly sue over every manifestation of foot-controlled computing. And with patent case law strongly favoring a wide interpretation of a patent's coverage and narrow interpretation of prior art, they'll likely win. Wait, my first "No" is incorrect, then.

Re:Prior Art! Prior Art! (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 3 years ago | (#34201760)

No, it just means Microsoft will be able to plausibly sue over every manifestation of foot-controlled computing. And with patent case law strongly favoring a wide interpretation of a patent's coverage and narrow interpretation of prior art, they'll likely win. Wait, my first "No" is incorrect, then.

I've not seen evidence of the "wide interpretation" of patent claims you're talking about, but I could be convinced if you had some evidence.

Also, it's important to note that prior art isn't the only limiting factor on viability of patent claims. In particular, non-obviousness is important. With the KSR ruling [wikipedia.org], the Supreme Court actually introduced the notion that the test for non-obviousness should incorporate a broader understanding of how practitioners of an art solve problems. The upshot is that it's more difficult for inventors to claim that a reasonably skilled practitioner of the art involved in their field wouldn't have come up with the same solution.

Left out of the article... (1)

cswiii (11061) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198460)

... the interface will initially be test-marketed in Asia, under "Hong Kong FUI" branding.

Can't Imagen this isn't patented yet.. (1)

Sait-kun (922599) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198510)

I have been using two foot paddles for both gaming and general computer use for roughly 8 years now... In Windows one paddles basically does a page back the other for change song. But they are especially awesome in games. In shooter type of games I usually have reload and use or take cover and in rpg games they are the hp and mana potion buttons :)

Foot User Device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34198578)

more commonly knew as FUD

prior art exists (tm) (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198662)

examples: stomp boxes for guitar players, foot pedals for sewing machines, which were copied after foot pedals for Movieola film editor viewers, foot pedals for Ironrite ironing drum machines, accelerator pedals, on and on.

oh, and if my hands are busy, I pet the cat with my foot.

Re:prior art exists (tm) (1)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198728)

Yeah I used to use a set of DDR pads hooked into my laptop to trigger samples and effects on my laptop while DJ'ing, I just used a macro program to map input events to ui controls.

reduction in anxiety and stress may be achieved (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198696)

"To summarize, embodiments allow a user to take a break from his or her normal working position and engage in a fun and interactive way of interacting with a personal computer. In contrast to the traditional method of using a keyboard and mouse to interact with a computer, embodiments efficiently utilize a foot-based interface, such as a foot pad, to interact with different application programs (e.g., email or photos application programs). In one example, a user can easily check email by stepping on different sections of a foot pad.
By encouraging a user to exercise, an increase in cardiovascular health, improvement in muscle tone, increase in bone density, reduction in anxiety and stress may be achieved."

I will give them this, way down in the fine print of this Microsoft patent they do at least encourage you to get off your damn computer and exercise once in a while.

"Foot dragging"? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198740)

You may call it that, Submitter, but if you bothered reading the page you linked to, you'd see that in spite of an average of 450 thousand applications received each month, the backlog is actually going down.

Re:"Foot dragging"? (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34199652)

I just looked at the numbers. I am assuming the 450,000 patent applications per month is correct.

There are roughly 6,200 patent examiners for utility patents, on to which there are roughly 3,000 patents per hour (450,000/160 hours in a month at a maximum).

A patent examiner in my fictional world of a full 8 hour day of work, therefore, has less than two hours to give a thumbs up or down on a patent. But it's never 8 hours. More like 6.5 if the Patent Office follows typical business productivity figures. And a patent application is never in English. It's in Patent-Attorney-Speak and deliberately obfuscated and wide enough to drive a truck through, with every trick tried to game the system. To expect the detection of prior art by a patent examiner is too much to ask for.

The patent office is bogus.

--
BMO

Re:"Foot dragging"? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34199842)

I just looked at the numbers. I am assuming the 450,000 patent applications per month is correct.

There are roughly 6,200 patent examiners for utility patents, on to which there are roughly 3,000 patents per hour (450,000/160 hours in a month at a maximum).

A patent examiner in my fictional world of a full 8 hour day of work, therefore, has less than two hours to give a thumbs up or down on a patent. But it's never 8 hours. More like 6.5 if the Patent Office follows typical business productivity figures. And a patent application is never in English. It's in Patent-Attorney-Speak and deliberately obfuscated and wide enough to drive a truck through, with every trick tried to game the system. To expect the detection of prior art by a patent examiner is too much to ask for.

The patent office is bogus.

-- BMO

So you're complaining about too little "foot-dragging"?

Re:"Foot dragging"? (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200030)

How is 2 hours/application "foot dragging"?

How about instead we hire more examiners (ooooooh, big government! bad! bad!), reduce the kinds of things that can be patented (disallow nature and math and software) and introduce a little sanity?

Because at this rate there isn't any "examining" going on.

--
BMO

Re:"Foot dragging"? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200146)

How is 2 hours/application "foot dragging"?

How about instead we hire more examiners (ooooooh, big government! bad! bad!),

Sure.

reduce the kinds of things that can be patented (disallow nature and math and software) and introduce a little sanity?

Nature and math can't be patented. Why disallow software? All other processes are patentable.

Additionally, if you have a beef with software patents, then argue that. Claiming that we have to exclude an area of invention from patentability because the Examiners are overworked would be an unconstitutional violation of due process - it's equivalent to saying we should refuse to give drivers' licenses to black people because the DMV is overworked. I mean, have you seen the lines there? Obviously, the solution is to refuse to grant licenses to an entire group.
No, that argument doesn't fly. You can't claim an administrative shortcut as a justification for denying rights.

Re:"Foot dragging"? (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200988)

>Nature and math can't be patented.

At last check, the patentability of naturally occurring genes was still possible. Last week the justice department sided against this in court, but I don't think a decision has been handed down yet.

Algorithms (math) are currently still being patented.

Why disallow software? Because it's *already covered by copyright* Indeed, copyright seems to be the stronger of the pair. Why patent the underlying math? a 20 years? That's an eternity for a company to monetize its intellectual property. 25 years ago was Windows 1.0. Before 15 years ago, patents weren't even very popular in software. The dotcom boom was built mostly without patents. It's only in the last 10 years we have seen patents explode with software and the only thing we see as a result of this is patent war chests and companies having to shell out money for lawyers instead of actual r&d.

>denying rights

No, patents are not a right. They are a privilege of monopoly granted by the government. There's a difference and determining what classes "deserve" monopoly is certainly something that can be done by a government.

There was a time when holding a patent meant you did some groundbreaking, revolutionary or even slightly creative thinking. Now? We've patented exercising a cat with a laser pointer and everything else under the sun, whether innovative or not. All you really need is the paperwork, the fee and a lawyer skilled in the art of writing patents. "I hold some patents" used to mean something. Now all it gets is a shrug and a "yeah, and?"

--
BMO

There's already a DIY foot mouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34198742)

On instructables there has already been a mouse for your foot for over a year now

Since this is Microsoft.... (1)

mjackson14609 (69635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198746)

Surely it's a Foot-operated User Device (FUD)?

Re:Since this is Microsoft.... (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198886)

Surely it's a Foot-operated User Device (FUD)?

No, they've had FUD patented for years.

FooBaR interface: FOOt Based useR interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34199492)

FUD or FooBaR?

WoW (1)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198748)

I remember Blizzard tried to pawn footpads off on players for World of Warcraft. I don't think those ever got any foothold either. Good luck M$

How sad is it (1)

mcouper (128103) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198780)

that we've gotten to a point where we can't even spend time with our children without feeling the need to check for email or facebook updates?

Re:How sad is it (1)

Combatso (1793216) | more than 3 years ago | (#34199214)

our son spent his first 3 months in an isolette as he was very premature... when we got him home, feeding was difficult.. they eat every two hours, and since he was used to a feeding tube, he was a very slow eater.. sometimes it would take 1:45 to feed him... this was around the clock... for her sanity we did as much bottle feeding as possible, but even that took an hour and half most days... it was constant feeding... so yeah, after a while you cry out for some social interaction, even if it is just on the phone, email, facebook or whatever... I bought an iPod touch for this very reason,... babies demand a lot of attention, but it can get mightly lonely when you spend 24/7 with only them....

So IMO it is NOT sad at all... perhaps new devices that allow us to interact with others, rather than isolate, will help new mothers, especially those from the facebook generation, ease in to their new roles.. and prevent them from getting overwhelmed and melting down... like the mother who killed her son "so she could farmville"...

Penis Computing (1)

Thinine (869482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198826)

I have patented a penis input device, to make it easier to type when, well, you know...

Re:Penis Computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34199048)

If you cannot also use the balls, you could not do control shift delete.

Re:Penis Computing (1)

hufter (542690) | more than 3 years ago | (#34199126)

Yeah, it would be "handy" to have an alternative method to change the porn clip while you are masturbating and your hands are soaked with lubricant.

Re:Penis Computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34200864)

You'd have to be a real dick to use one of those.

Prior Art? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198928)

There have been a number of foot operated input devices developed for card counting hardware/applications.

Re:Prior Art? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34199408)

yeah... let's not forget car's, pipe organs & piano pedal, black smith bellows, sewing machine's with foot operated speed control, etc, etc.

MS is simply using the foot as X in the bogus "Using X on a computer", patent formula.

Re:Prior Art? (1)

Combatso (1793216) | more than 3 years ago | (#34199736)

and the countless press operators that use a pedal to control the press (because the safety equipment pulls their hands back with a chain)..

tro7l (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34199076)

a way to spend No matter how but with Netcraft while the project THINKING ABOUT AIT. of user base for to stick somrething show that *BSD has

Yes, but can she... (1)

spads (1095039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34199174)

...use her breasts to surf the web while riding a bicycle? You know, thinking maybe a handle bar mounted pda, or something like that.

Is it safe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34199604)

I'm leery about this Foot User Device. Will it cause carpal tunnel of the ankle? Can you get athlete's foot by sharing it? Does it provide adequate arch support? Until we know more about this FUD, I recommend that no one use it.

In a related story... (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200148)

Microsoft had to give up on the "Nipple Mouse(tm)", because it kept shocking mother and baby.

DDR, baby! (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200244)

In one instance, a mother with a baby in her arms is unable to easily perform simple tasks, such as checking email, on a computer.' Users of the 'Foot-Based Interface for Interacting With a Computer,' however, will be able to move their feet and step on the floor a la DDR to execute various commands, such as deleting email or scrolling down the screen.

For some reason I don't think it's quite a good idea to play DDR (or even emulate the DDR menu system) while holding a baby.

Re:DDR, baby! (1)

wolf1oo (1732258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200616)

I agree entirely, that was my first thought when reading this. If someone does not have their hands free, clearly they are occupied with something else, in which case they really should not be using a computer... I can see some genius connecting it to a laptop and checking emails while driving.

I remember when the mouse came out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34200932)

I remember when the mouse came out, and a lot of women --used to operating sewing machines-- would place them on the floor, and step on them. "Certainly not as robust as the unit used for the sewing machine" was the usual complaint. The complaining continued when they found that the unit was dirty after being on the floor and under foot, and they had to wash both unit and hand. I look forward to using the Kinect with my Linux box, (along with the new open source drivers). Sorry Microsoft users, none for you!

Best way for foot-computing productivity (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34201638)

"YOU! Stop reading Slashdot and get back to work!" BOOT TO THE HEAD

Now I owe Microsoft a buck.

fungus problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34201678)

no way my feet has fungus!

April fools! (1)

therufus (677843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34201972)

I'm kinda confused. I'm certain it's not April, but.... Ok, just try to tell me that if this article was posted April 1, you would believe it!

A simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34201992)

Foot based input devices have existed since the mid 80's if not before. There is a really simple solution to this kind of issue. If there is obvious prior art the patent official that approved the patent app must personally pay a significant fine for not doing his job. Government officials should have consequences for screwing up just like those of us in the private sector.

RSD

What about the device driver? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34202152)

so...does this make a Foot User Driver just more FUD?

lifeline for the disabled from the waist up (1)

stephen70 (1192101) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203040)

This will be a huge bonus for anyone who is paralysed from the waist up and therefore unable to use their arms. ;-)

my grandpa came up with this idea himself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203296)

My grandpa who had never used a computer before thought that a regular mouse was meant to be used as a foot pedal.

both hands free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34204480)

Wait, so now I can have both hands free when browsing, umm, cooking recipies?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...