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Multi-Touch Keyboard Technology

timothy posted about 12 years ago | from the no-click-typing dept.

Hardware 246

PhoenxHwk writes "University of Delaware's webpage is running a story on the new Multi-Touch Keyboard by Fingerworks. This was on Slashdot once before, but the product is no longer vapor! Fingerworks's products are gesture-based keyboard-and-mouse "surfaces" that require zero force to work with - they are hailed as a product to both combat RSI and make working more efficient."

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New improved FP version 6.0 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383160)

Get your own!!!

ok (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383171)

ok

OMG FP OWN3D (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383164)

can you say: own3d?

What I want... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383168)

...is multi-touch hooker technology.

fsckwits - 6th post!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383179)

Suck my dong. Everyone knows that Carrie Fisher in 1997 was hotter than Natalie Portman in 2000. So there. Ya freaks.

Premature ejaculation. - n/t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383192)

zero force? (1)

tps12 (105590) | about 12 years ago | (#4383186)

How does that work? It seems to me that any type of hardware sensor needs to experience some change of state (i.e., the application of a non-zero force) to function. The only possible way to achieve a zero force input device on Earth is to enclose the keyboard and mouse surface within an artificial vacuum chamber. My feeling is that this would be prohibitively expensive, but perhaps they've found a cheaper way to do this, in which case the effects on the manufacturing, lubrication, and transportation industries are going to be enormous. Anyone have more details?

Re:zero force? (3, Insightful)

PhoenxHwk (254106) | about 12 years ago | (#4383218)

It senses capacitance from the fingers getting infinitely close to the surface.

Re:zero force? (4, Funny)

goldenfield (64924) | about 12 years ago | (#4383281)

Maybe instead of zero force, they USE the Force. They've got thousands of Midocholorians trapped in the pad...

*waves hand* You will open Mozilla to Slashdot...

Laptop touchpads? (Re:zero force) (2)

phorm (591458) | about 12 years ago | (#4383268)

Some laptop touchpads seem to work independent of the force applied. You can push as hard as you want with a pen, etc and nothing happens. A fairly light brush of the finger and the mouse moves. I'd assume it's based on energized contact, heat sensing, or something else that differs between human skin and inanimate objects poking the touchpad

its just a really quiet orc peon.... (1)

EnderWiggnz (39214) | about 12 years ago | (#4383317)

STOP POKING ME!!

(so quietly you cant hear it)

Re:zero force? (2, Informative)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | about 12 years ago | (#4383330)

From the UD article:
Elias explained the touch pad acts like a video camera, recording the objects touching its surface. An embedded microprocessor then applies an algorithmic process to convert those touches into commands understood by the computer.

Re:zero force? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383380)

To split this hair properly: the device is zero force as in "zero _additional_ force". I.e. other than the force needed to move your finger by itself, through whatever medium you happen to be in (had better be air, though ;-), the device needs no additional force. Or one that is so incredibly small you'ld never be able to measure it.

Strictly speaking, even a capacitive sensor would need *some* force, because entering the finger into the electric field must change its configuration to be detectable, and thus require some force, either on the way in or out. But if that force is two orders of magnitude smaller than that needed to overcome biological friction of your finger joints, that's "zero" for all practical means and purposes.

I don't want a new keyboard! (5, Funny)

dildatron (611498) | about 12 years ago | (#4383187)

All I want is one key [courtoffside.com] .

UNREAL! (-1)

xdfgf (460453) | about 12 years ago | (#4383193)

Skeleton on the Dunny

Cow Dung Custard

Thank you

Neat (2, Informative)

tezzery (549213) | about 12 years ago | (#4383197)

Sounds like an interesting product/technology. I can't imagine gaming with one of these though.

Wow... (0, Offtopic)

mbaz (594795) | about 12 years ago | (#4383198)

Slashdoted in 7 minutes. New record?

No way. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383361)

The best time I've ever seen has been in about 30 seconds. The fp was someone exclaiming about how quickly the site had been Slashdotted ;)

Re:No way. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383452)

It was probably someones personal site on DSL. :)

I remember the Computer Language Shootout being one of those.

Re:Wow... (1)

ejaw5 (570071) | about 12 years ago | (#4383462)

Fingerworks's products are gesture-based keyboard-and-mouse "surfaces" that require zero force to work with

I guess the sysadmin closed his office door too hard, the wind must have hit the CTRL-ALT-DEL buttons simutaniously.

Welcome to the United States of Amerika (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383564)


United States starts racial profiling at airports:
by requiring visitors from Arab and Muslim countries to be fingerprinted. Given that there are Muslims who are residents of the U.S.A., the
next step is racial profiling of U.S. residents.
Ooops, we already do that!!

Read about Nazi Amerika here:

Racial Profiling At Airports [guardian.co.uk]

Cheers!!

Er... (1)

Dthoma (593797) | about 12 years ago | (#4383199)

"Fingerworks's products are gesture-based keyboard-and-mouse "surfaces" that require zero force to work with"

Require zero force to work with? Is that even physically possible?

Re:Er... (2)

PhoenxHwk (254106) | about 12 years ago | (#4383242)

Yep, definitely possible. It uses capacitance to figure out when your fingers get close - down to a micron or two (if I recall).

Re:Er... (1)

shepd (155729) | about 12 years ago | (#4383267)

>Require zero force to work with? Is that even physically possible?

Sure, why not?

Don't breathe for one second, letter a. Two seconds, letter b. 5 minutes, CTRL-ALT-DEL.

Re:Er... (1)

kmo (203708) | about 12 years ago | (#4383364)

Since the site is already slashdotted, I have no idea how it works. But if you had a device that used sound or light to track your motion (think bat-like echolocation or laser rulers) you could detect gestures without exerting force on the device.

However, it's most likely just an exageration.

Re:Er... (2, Funny)

travdaddy (527149) | about 12 years ago | (#4383428)

Require zero force to work with? Is that even physically possible?

Sure!
I use zero force at my job already.

great product (5, Informative)

kLaNk (82409) | about 12 years ago | (#4383205)

I have had one of these for several months now, it is really nice.

The biggest problem that I have faced with it is getting used to typing with no force feedback (since there are no moving parts). Furthermore, it is hard to keep your fingers in the correct locations, since, with the exception of two little raised dots, there are no physical boundries between the keys.

One of the best thigns about this keyboard though is how the entire touchpad of the keyboard can be used as a mouse. Remeber the article just recentally here about mouse gestures? Just imagine really using gesture with your hands, it is awesome.

Again, there is a tough learning curve, but then once you get past it, it is an awesome product, well worth the money.

Re:great product (2, Funny)

rplacd (123904) | about 12 years ago | (#4383487)

I confess, while reading a long document/web site/whatever, I unconsciously play with my keyboard's nipples.
That won't work with this keyboard...

Re:great product (5, Interesting)

jtdubs (61885) | about 12 years ago | (#4383488)

Now, I'm just talking here, but...

Why do you need the keyboard fixed in place on this thing? Why do you need keys with boundaries?

It seems as though this thing could just make the keyboard be wherever the hands feel like being. Wherever you put your hands on the pad, that's where the keyboard is.

If you have the hands resting in the touch-type position, regardless of position on the pad, and the left index-finger is depressed, type an 'F'.

If an area is tapped that is just a bit above and to the left of the left middle finger, type an 'E'.

Just put your hands down and do the motion of typing, no need to line anything up.

Or, is this how it already works? Or, is this a bad idea and I'm just a fool?

Justin Dubs

Re:great product (3, Interesting)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 12 years ago | (#4383574)

Sounds good; could also adapt fairly easily to finger length-- "home keys" need not be in a straight row. Could get a little confusing though without actually being able to tell where the keyboard would accept different letters at any given time...

Re:great product (5, Funny)

naasking (94116) | about 12 years ago | (#4383547)

One of the best thigns about this keyboard [...] Remeber the article just recentally here about mouse [...] Furthermore, it is hard to keep your fingers in the correct locations, since, with the exception of two little raised dots, there are no physical boundries between the keys.

Hmmm... yes, I see the problem...

Laugh people, it's a joke. :-)

slashdotted (3, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383206)

Enjoy. Sept. 27, 2002--University of Delaware researchers have developed a revolutionary computer interface technology that promises to put the bite on the
traditional mouse and mechanical keyboard. 3We have developed a technology that goes well beyond the mouse and mechanical keyboard,2 John Elias, UD
professor of electrical and computer engineering, said. Elias and Wayne Westerman, UD visiting assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering,
have been working on the new interface for about five years and are now marketing their iGesture product through a company called FingerWorks. In a
surprise move, the two scientists began shoving the new keyboard up each others' asses simulatneously, while using the new keyboard technology to stimulate
the colon and the G spot, respectively. The project started as a doctoral thesis by Westerman, who was then a UD graduate student working with Elias. The
FingerWorks name fits because the technology uses a touch pad and a range of finger motions to communicate commands and keys to the computer. To
open a file, you rotate your hand as if opening a jar; to zoom or de-zoom, you expand or contract your hand. Elias said the communication power of their
system is 3thousands of times greater2 than that of a mouse, which uses just a single moving point as the main input. Using this new technology, two human
hands provide 10 points of contact, with a wide range of motion for each, thus providing thousands of different patterns, each of which can mean something
different to the computer. While much about the computer has changed over the last three decades-greater power, faster speeds, more memory-what has not
changed is the user interface. 3For what it was invented for, the mouse does a good job,2 Elias said. 3People accept the mouse and the mechanical keyboard
because that1s the way it is. But there are limitations in terms of information flow. There is so much power in the computer, and so much power in the human,
but the present situation results in a communications bottleneck between the two.2 Elias and Westerman have a better idea. 3I believe we are on the verge of
changing the way people interact with computers,2 Elias said. 3Imagine trying to communicate with another human being using just a mouse and a keyboard.
It works, but it is slow and tedious. 3This is not just a little step in improving the mouse, this is the first step in a new way of communicating with the
computer through gestures and the movements of your hands. This is, after all, one of the ways humans interact.2 Elias said he could envision in the next 10
years 3a very complex gestural language between man and machine.2 The system is a multi-touch, zero force technology, Elias said, meaning the gestures and
movements use all the fingers in a light and subtle manner. Because of that, the system has a second major advantage over the mouse and mechanical
keyboard because it can greatly reduce stress injuries such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome attributed to traditional computer work. The company
markets both stand-alone touch pads and touch pads built into nonmechanical keyboards. In the keyboards, the keys overlap the touch pad so the operator
does not have to move his hands when switching between typing and using the mouse. Rather, everything can be done in a smoother flow of hand motions.
Elias explained the touch pad acts like a video camera, recording the objects touching its surface. An embedded microprocessor then applies an algorithmic
process to convert those touches into commands understood by the computer. 3To observers watching somebody use multi-touch, it looks a little like magic,2
Elias said, illustrating his point on a computer in Evans Hall. 3People see lots of things happening on the computer screen but very little hand motion is
observed.2 He said the system has been designed so the gestures used make sense for the operation being performed. For instance, you cut text with a pinch
and paste it with a flick. Eventually, he said, the computer password could be a gesture known only to the user. Elias said people often think that speech
recognition systems will become the ultimate user interface. 3Voice commands are good for many things but terrible for other things,2 Elias said, adding he
believes there are inherent problems with a speech-only interface. 3If you want to test this claim, you can do so with a perfect speech recognition
system-another human being,2 Elias said. 3Put somebody in front of your computer and try to do your work by issuing voice commands to him. You1ll
quickly find that many common tasks are difficult to do using speech, even though your OEcomputer interface1 understands you perfectly.2 Using hand and
finger motion to input commands is, for many tasks, much more effective than trying to explain what you want to do in words, he said. The system is being
used at several work stations in Evans Hall and the reaction is largely favorable. It is something of a challenge for some workers, Elias said, because it is like
learning a new language. Susan Foster, UD vice president of information technologies, said she is impressed with the interface and plans to adopt it for use at
several computer sites around campus. 3The device is the result of new thinking about the OEbandwidth1 that constrains the physical interaction between
operator and computer,2 Foster said. 3It capitalizes on human gestures, which are easy to understand and execute. Once learned, like other motor skills, they
are readily retained. The assistive qualities of the device also make it quite useful for those with limitations on upper extremity use.2 The plug-and-play device,
which requires no special software, should be of particular interest to programmers, graphic designers and editors, Foster said, and she is recommending they
consider making use of a new technology that was 3born and bred at UD and under continuing development here.2 The University of Delaware is an equity
partner in FingerWorks. For more on FingerWorks, see the web site at [www.fingerworks.com]. Photos by Eric Crossan

Re:slashdotted (1)

mverrilli (147811) | about 12 years ago | (#4383429)

In a surprise move, the two scientists began shoving the new keyboard up each others' asses simulatneously, while using the new keyboard technology to stimulate the colon and the G spot, respectively.

Do moderators even read things before they brand them as Informative?

Re:slashdotted (1)

trbogie (608396) | about 12 years ago | (#4383449)

I don't know, but it's a great way to sell keyboards. I need a new one after spitting out a mouthful of soda on mine when I saw that line.

Re:slashdotted (1)

pcardoso (132954) | about 12 years ago | (#4383532)

In a surprise move, the two scientists began shoving the new keyboard up each others' asses simulatneously, while using the new keyboard technology to stimulate the colon and the G spot, respectively.



I'm surprised this post got to +2 despite this comment in the first few lines. phew! don't people read before applying moderation?

Already?? (1)

TooCynical (323240) | about 12 years ago | (#4383207)

C'mon guys, I never get a chance to read the sites before you all crash them!

Maybe someone should warn these sites so that they can off load some of the traffic to emergency servers.

No Mercy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383243)

Slashdot has no mercy. Tis with glee that we crush thee.....

sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383348)

ya know, i think the original quote, "Sorry doesn't put thumbs on the hand marge!", was funnier

gesture-based (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383216)

Will it know I have just flipped it off?

"any" key? (2, Funny)

misterhaan (613272) | about 12 years ago | (#4383221)

now what will everyone do when faced with "press any key to continue..."?

'any' key? it doesn't even have an 'enter' key!

Re:"any" key? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383412)

I'd say this may easily become the first keyboard in the world to actually *have* an "any" key. My vote would be a flat-hand slap onto the touchpad --- that's as close to "press any key" as it'll ever get.

Continued journalism (5, Funny)

Fjord (99230) | about 12 years ago | (#4383222)

I'm glad to see they are continuing their policies [slashdot.org] on advertisements here on /.

You would think a slashvertiser would strengthen their site before getting a link to their front page put up, though.

Re:Continued journalism (1)

dildatron (611498) | about 12 years ago | (#4383299)

I agree that there is a fine line between advertising and journalism, but I don't see a problem with this being on /.. It is supposed to be news that the tech community may be interested in. This doesn't mean that each individual is interested, but as a whole the community might be.

Seeing as how carpal tunnel is becoming an increasingly larger issue, I know I am at least interested in what future keyboards may look like, and I consider it somewhat interested.

If one continues your arguement, then you would say that magazines like Popular Science and Popular Mechanics are all advertisements for new products. That is simply not true. When I read these periodicals, I like to see what may be in the future, and how much they will cost. Advertisements are just trying to sell you a product, new thing slike this are just being written about because they are interesting to some people, and are a "new idea".

Gestures? (3, Insightful)

Bonker (243350) | about 12 years ago | (#4383225)

Well, *that* didn't take long to Slashdot.

Still, here's a little snippet from the page I was reading before it died:

The iGesture Pad gives you unprecedented control of graphical objects using gestures while providing you with the same functionality of the mouse. The iGesture Pad is thin enough to pack along with your notebook computer and it is a perfect mouse or track ball replacement for your desktop system. It works equally well with either hand.

They way they show this thing being used, you spend as much time making sign-language-like gestures to perform computer commands as you do pointing and dragging your finger around.

On one hand, I think this would be a cool idea, but on the other I wonder how much more or less stress having to effectively communicate in a sign language would be than using a mouse to accomplish the same tasks.

Re:Gestures? (2)

Thalia (42305) | about 12 years ago | (#4383324)

As always google cache [216.239.53.100] rocks.

Thalia

The article, in case it's /.ed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383226)

The article, in case it's /.ed like the fingerworkssite:

UD researchers develop revolutionary computer interface technology

Sept. 27, 2002--University of Delaware researchers have developed a revolutionary computer interface technology that promises to put the bite on the traditional mouse and mechanical keyboard.

"We have developed a technology that goes well beyond the mouse and mechanical keyboard," John Elias, UD professor of electrical and computer engineering, said.

Elias and Wayne Westerman, UD visiting assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, have been working on the new interface for about five years and are now marketing their iGesture product through a company called FingerWorks.

The project started as a doctoral thesis by Westerman, who was then a UD graduate student working with Elias.

The FingerWorks name fits because the technology uses a touch pad and a range of finger motions to communicate commands and keys to the computer. To open a file, you rotate your hand as if opening a jar; to zoom or de-zoom, you expand or contract your hand.

Elias said the communication power of their system is "thousands of times greater" than that of a mouse, which uses just a single moving point as the main input. Using this new technology, two human hands provide 10 points of contact, with a wide range of motion for each, thus providing thousands of different patterns, each of which can mean something different to the computer.

While much about the computer has changed over the last three decades-greater power, faster speeds, more memory-what has not changed is the user interface.

"For what it was invented for, the mouse does a good job," Elias said. "People accept the mouse and the mechanical keyboard because that's the way it is. But there are limitations in terms of information flow. There is so much power in the computer, and so much power in the human, but the present situation results in a communications bottleneck between the two."

Elias and Westerman have a better idea. "I believe we are on the verge of changing the way people interact with computers," Elias said. "Imagine trying to communicate with another human being using just a mouse and a keyboard. It works, but it is slow and tedious.

"This is not just a little step in improving the mouse, this is the first step in a new way of communicating with the computer through gestures and the movements of your hands. This is, after all, one of the ways humans interact."

Elias said he could envision in the next 10 years "a very complex gestural language between man and machine."

The system is a multi-touch, zero force technology, Elias said, meaning the gestures and movements use all the fingers in a light and subtle manner.

Because of that, the system has a second major advantage over the mouse and mechanical keyboard because it can greatly reduce stress injuries such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome attributed to traditional computer work.

The company markets both stand-alone touch pads and touch pads built into nonmechanical keyboards. In the keyboards, the keys overlap the touch pad so the operator does not have to move his hands when switching between typing and using the mouse. Rather, everything can be done in a smoother flow of hand motions.

Elias explained the touch pad acts like a video camera, recording the objects touching its surface. An embedded microprocessor then applies an algorithmic process to convert those touches into commands understood by the computer.

"To observers watching somebody use multi-touch, it looks a little like magic," Elias said, illustrating his point on a computer in Evans Hall. "People see lots of things happening on the computer screen but very little hand motion is observed."

He said the system has been designed so the gestures used make sense for the operation being performed. For instance, you cut text with a pinch and paste it with a flick.

Eventually, he said, the computer password could be a gesture known only to the user.

Elias said people often think that speech recognition systems will become the ultimate user interface. "Voice commands are good for many things but terrible for other things," Elias said, adding he believes there are inherent problems with a speech-only interface.

"If you want to test this claim, you can do so with a perfect speech recognition system-another human being," Elias said. "Put somebody in front of your computer and try to do your work by issuing voice commands to him. You'll quickly find that many common tasks are difficult to do using speech, even though your 'computer interface' understands you perfectly."

Using hand and finger motion to input commands is, for many tasks, much more effective than trying to explain what you want to do in words, he said.

The system is being used at several work stations in Evans Hall and the reaction is largely favorable. It is something of a challenge for some workers, Elias said, because it is like learning a new language.

Susan Foster, UD vice president of information technologies, said she is impressed with the interface and plans to adopt it for use at several computer sites around campus.

"The device is the result of new thinking about the 'bandwidth' that constrains the physical interaction between operator and computer," Foster said. "It capitalizes on human gestures, which are easy to understand and execute. Once learned, like other motor skills, they are readily retained. The assistive qualities of the device also make it quite useful for those with limitations on upper extremity use."

The plug-and-play device, which requires no special software, should be of particular interest to programmers, graphic designers and editors, Foster said, and she is recommending they consider making use of a new technology that was "born and bred at UD and under continuing development here."

The University of Delaware is an equity partner in FingerWorks.

For more on FingerWorks, see the web site at [www.fingerworks.com].

slashdotted already? (0, Redundant)

dildatron (611498) | about 12 years ago | (#4383227)

the article was just creeping when I viewed it. In case it get's completed /.'d, here's a text copy: (and a picture [udel.edu] )

UD researchers develop revolutionary computer interface technology Sept. 27, 2002--University of Delaware researchers have developed a revolutionary computer interface technology that promises to put the bite on the traditional mouse and mechanical keyboard.

"We have developed a technology that goes well beyond the mouse and mechanical keyboard," John Elias, UD professor of electrical and computer engineering, said.

Elias and Wayne Westerman, UD visiting assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, have been working on the new interface for about five years and are now marketing their iGesture product through a company called FingerWorks.

The project started as a doctoral thesis by Westerman, who was then a UD graduate student working with Elias.

The FingerWorks name fits because the technology uses a touch pad and a range of finger motions to communicate commands and keys to the computer. To open a file, you rotate your hand as if opening a jar; to zoom or de-zoom, you expand or contract your hand.

Elias said the communication power of their system is "thousands of times greater" than that of a mouse, which uses just a single moving point as the main input. Using this new technology, two human hands provide 10 points of contact, with a wide range of motion for each, thus providing thousands of different patterns, each of which can mean something different to the computer.

While much about the computer has changed over the last three decades-greater power, faster speeds, more memory-what has not changed is the user interface.

"For what it was invented for, the mouse does a good job," Elias said. "People accept the mouse and the mechanical keyboard because that's the way it is. But there are limitations in terms of information flow. There is so much power in the computer, and so much power in the human, but the present situation results in a communications bottleneck between the two."

Elias and Westerman have a better idea. "I believe we are on the verge of changing the way people interact with computers," Elias said. "Imagine trying to communicate with another human being using just a mouse and a keyboard. It works, but it is slow and tedious.

"This is not just a little step in improving the mouse, this is the first step in a new way of communicating with the computer through gestures and the movements of your hands. This is, after all, one of the ways humans interact."

Elias said he could envision in the next 10 years "a very complex gestural language between man and machine."

The system is a multi-touch, zero force technology, Elias said, meaning the gestures and movements use all the fingers in a light and subtle manner.

Because of that, the system has a second major advantage over the mouse and mechanical keyboard because it can greatly reduce stress injuries such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome attributed to traditional computer work.

The company markets both stand-alone touch pads and touch pads built into nonmechanical keyboards. In the keyboards, the keys overlap the touch pad so the operator does not have to move his hands when switching between typing and using the mouse. Rather, everything can be done in a smoother flow of hand motions.

Elias explained the touch pad acts like a video camera, recording the objects touching its surface. An embedded microprocessor then applies an algorithmic process to convert those touches into commands understood by the computer.

"To observers watching somebody use multi-touch, it looks a little like magic," Elias said, illustrating his point on a computer in Evans Hall. "People see lots of things happening on the computer screen but very little hand motion is observed."

He said the system has been designed so the gestures used make sense for the operation being performed. For instance, you cut text with a pinch and paste it with a flick.

Eventually, he said, the computer password could be a gesture known only to the user.

Elias said people often think that speech recognition systems will become the ultimate user interface. "Voice commands are good for many things but terrible for other things," Elias said, adding he believes there are inherent problems with a speech-only interface.

"If you want to test this claim, you can do so with a perfect speech recognition system-another human being," Elias said. "Put somebody in front of your computer and try to do your work by issuing voice commands to him. You'll quickly find that many common tasks are difficult to do using speech, even though your 'computer interface' understands you perfectly."

Using hand and finger motion to input commands is, for many tasks, much more effective than trying to explain what you want to do in words, he said.

The system is being used at several work stations in Evans Hall and the reaction is largely favorable. It is something of a challenge for some workers, Elias said, because it is like learning a new language.

Susan Foster, UD vice president of information technologies, said she is impressed with the interface and plans to adopt it for use at several computer sites around campus.

"The device is the result of new thinking about the 'bandwidth' that constrains the physical interaction between operator and computer," Foster said. "It capitalizes on human gestures, which are easy to understand and execute. Once learned, like other motor skills, they are readily retained. The assistive qualities of the device also make it quite useful for those with limitations on upper extremity use."

The plug-and-play device, which requires no special software, should be of particular interest to programmers, graphic designers and editors, Foster said, and she is recommending they consider making use of a new technology that was "born and bred at UD and under continuing development here."

The University of Delaware is an equity partner in FingerWorks.

/. vapor (4, Funny)

mattsucks (541950) | about 12 years ago | (#4383228)

... but the product is no longer vapor!
Too bad the U. of Delaware's web server is ....

Speech Recognition (3, Insightful)

tycage (96002) | about 12 years ago | (#4383230)

'Elias said people often think that speech recognition systems will become the ultimate user interface. "Voice commands are good for many things but terrible for other things," Elias said, adding he believes there are inherent problems with a speech-only interface.

"If you want to test this claim, you can do so with a perfect speech recognition system-another human being," Elias said. "Put somebody in front of your computer and try to do your work by issuing voice commands to him. You'll quickly find that many common tasks are difficult to do using speech, even though your 'computer interface' understands you perfectly."'


It's there a flaw in the argument here?

This is trying to use a UI designed to use a keyboard and a mouse by using speech instead. Wouldn't a system that was intended to use speech recognition be designed around that idea? I'd think that would cause it to have a completly different interface.

What he describes is like trying to navigate a mouse driven interface with a keyboard when it hasn't been designed to use a keyboard at all. Or maybe a better example, it's like trying to type a letter using your mouse to click on a onscreen keyboard. It's just not how the UI was designed to be driven.

--Ty

Miror (1)

lobsterGun (415085) | about 12 years ago | (#4383232)

Google Cache [216.239.51.100]

Here is the text of the article... (4, Informative)

gosand (234100) | about 12 years ago | (#4383238)


UD researchers develop revolutionary computer interface technology

Sept. 27, 2002--University of Delaware researchers have developed a revolutionary computer interface technology that promises to put the bite on the traditional mouse and mechanical keyboard.

"We have developed a technology that goes well beyond the mouse and mechanical keyboard," John Elias, UD professor of electrical and computer engineering, said.

Elias and Wayne Westerman, UD visiting assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, have been working on the new interface for about five years and are now marketing their iGesture product through a company called FingerWorks.

The project started as a doctoral thesis by Westerman, who was then a UD graduate student working with Elias.

The FingerWorks name fits because the technology uses a touch pad and a range of finger motions to communicate commands and keys to the computer. To open a file, you rotate your hand as if opening a jar; to zoom or de-zoom, you expand or contract your hand.

Elias said the communication power of their system is "thousands of times greater" than that of a mouse, which uses just a single moving point as the main input. Using this new technology, two human hands provide 10 points of contact, with a wide range of motion for each, thus providing thousands of different patterns, each of which can mean something different to the computer.

While much about the computer has changed over the last three decades-greater power, faster speeds, more memory-what has not changed is the user interface.

"For what it was invented for, the mouse does a good job," Elias said. "People accept the mouse and the mechanical keyboard because that's the way it is. But there are limitations in terms of information flow. There is so much power in the computer, and so much power in the human, but the present situation results in a communications bottleneck between the two."

Elias and Westerman have a better idea. "I believe we are on the verge of changing the way people interact with computers," Elias said. "Imagine trying to communicate with another human being using just a mouse and a keyboard. It works, but it is slow and tedious.

"This is not just a little step in improving the mouse, this is the first step in a new way of communicating with the computer through gestures and the movements of your hands. This is, after all, one of the ways humans interact."

Elias said he could envision in the next 10 years "a very complex gestural language between man and machine."

The system is a multi-touch, zero force technology, Elias said, meaning the gestures and movements use all the fingers in a light and subtle manner.

Because of that, the system has a second major advantage over the mouse and mechanical keyboard because it can greatly reduce stress injuries such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome attributed to traditional computer work.

The company markets both stand-alone touch pads and touch pads built into
nonmechanical keyboards. In the keyboards, the keys overlap the touch pad so the operator does not have to move his hands when switching between typing and using the mouse. Rather, everything can be done in a smoother flow of hand motions.

Elias explained the touch pad acts like a video camera, recording the objects touching its surface. An embedded microprocessor then applies an algorithmic process to convert those touches into commands understood by the computer.

"To observers watching somebody use multi-touch, it looks a little like magic,"
Elias said, illustrating his point on a computer in Evans Hall. "People see lots of things happening on the computer screen but very little hand motion is observed."

He said the system has been designed so the gestures used make sense for the operation being performed. For instance, you cut text with a pinch and paste it with a flick.

Eventually, he said, the computer password could be a gesture known only to the user.

Elias said people often think that speech recognition systems will become the ultimate user interface. "Voice commands are good for many things but terrible for other things," Elias said, adding he believes there are inherent problems with a speech-only interface.

"If you want to test this claim, you can do so with a perfect speech recognition system-another human being," Elias said. "Put somebody in front of your computer and try to do your work by issuing voice commands to him. You'll quickly find that many common tasks are difficult to do using speech, even though your 'computer interface' understands you perfectly."

Using hand and finger motion to input commands is, for many tasks, much more effective than trying to explain what you want to do in words, he said.

The system is being used at several work stations in Evans Hall and the reaction is largely favorable. It is something of a challenge for some workers, Elias said, because it is like learning a new language.

Susan Foster, UD vice president of information technologies, said she is impressed with the interface and plans to adopt it for use at several computer sites around campus.

"The device is the result of new thinking about the 'bandwidth' that constrains the physical interaction between operator and computer," Foster said. "It capitalizes on human gestures, which are easy to understand and execute. Once learned, like other motor skills, they are readily retained. The assistive qualities of the device also make it quite useful for those with limitations on upper extremity use."

The plug-and-play device, which requires no special software, should be of particular interest to programmers, graphic designers and editors, Foster said, and she is recommending they consider making use of a new technology that was "born and bred at UD and under continuing development here."

The University of Delaware is an equity partner in FingerWorks.

For more on FingerWorks, see the web site at [www.fingerworks.com].

Re:Here is the text of the article... (1)

saskboy (600063) | about 12 years ago | (#4383363)

This may be redundant text, but it is formatted better than the previous copy/paste on this discussion. Mod it up.

gestures (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383244)

To open a file, you rotate your hand as if opening a jar; to zoom or de-zoom, you expand or contract your hand.

Some interesting gesture possibilities for looking at pr0n come to mind.

Only if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383392)

you can still have one hand free.

Re:gestures (1)

certron (57841) | about 12 years ago | (#4383556)

Unfortunately, this probably won't lessen repetitive stress injuries, which is one of the things it is, uh, aiming to do...

As for more 'natural' interactions, welll... hehehehehe (one can only hope it gets innovated into something better than the TFUI botch job that might still be covered by some patents.)

The Story (a better formatted version) (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383252)

Sept. 27, 2002--University of Delaware researchers have developed a revolutionary computer interface technology that promises to put the bite on the traditional mouse and mechanical keyboard.

"We have developed a technology that goes well beyond the mouse and mechanical keyboard," John Elias, UD professor of electrical and computer engineering, said.

Elias and Wayne Westerman, UD visiting assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, have been working on the new interface for about five years and are now marketing their iGesture product through a company called FingerWorks.

The project started as a doctoral thesis by Westerman, who was then a UD graduate student working with Elias.

The FingerWorks name fits because the technology uses a touch pad and a range of finger motions to communicate commands and keys to the computer. To open a file, you rotate your hand as if opening a jar; to zoom or de-zoom, you expand or contract your hand.

Elias said the communication power of their system is "thousands of times greater" than that of a mouse, which uses just a single moving point as the main input. Using this new technology, two human hands provide 10 points of contact, with a wide range of motion for each, thus providing thousands of different patterns, each of which can mean something different to the computer.

While much about the computer has changed over the last three decades-greater power, faster speeds, more memory-what has not changed is the user interface.

"For what it was invented for, the mouse does a good job," Elias said. "People accept the mouse and the mechanical keyboard because that's the way it is. But there are limitations in terms of information flow. There is so much power in the computer, and so much power in the human, but the present situation results in a communications bottleneck between the two."

Elias and Westerman have a better idea. "I believe we are on the verge of changing the way people interact with computers," Elias said. "Imagine trying to communicate with another human being using just a mouse and a keyboard. It works, but it is slow and tedious.

"This is not just a little step in improving the mouse, this is the first step in a new way of communicating with the computer through gestures and the movements of your hands. This is, after all, one of the ways humans interact."

Elias said he could envision in the next 10 years "a very complex gestural language between man and machine."

The system is a multi-touch, zero force technology, Elias said, meaning the gestures and movements use all the fingers in a light and subtle manner.

Because of that, the system has a second major advantage over the mouse and mechanical keyboard because it can greatly reduce stress injuries such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome attributed to traditional computer work.

The company markets both stand-alone touch pads and touch pads built into nonmechanical keyboards. In the keyboards, the keys overlap the touch pad so the operator does not have to move his hands when switching between typing and using the mouse. Rather, everything can be done in a smoother flow of hand motions.

Elias explained the touch pad acts like a video camera, recording the objects touching its surface. An embedded microprocessor then applies an algorithmic process to convert those touches into commands understood by the computer.

"To observers watching somebody use multi-touch, it looks a little like magic," Elias said, illustrating his point on a computer in Evans Hall. "People see lots of things happening on the computer screen but very little hand motion is observed."

He said the system has been designed so the gestures used make sense for the operation being performed. For instance, you cut text with a pinch and paste it with a flick.

Eventually, he said, the computer password could be a gesture known only to the user.

Elias said people often think that speech recognition systems will become the ultimate user interface. "Voice commands are good for many things but terrible for other things," Elias said, adding he believes there are inherent problems with a speech-only interface.

"If you want to test this claim, you can do so with a perfect speech recognition system-another human being," Elias said. "Put somebody in front of your computer and try to do your work by issuing voice commands to him. You'll quickly find that many common tasks are difficult to do using speech, even though your 'computer interface' understands you perfectly."

Using hand and finger motion to input commands is, for many tasks, much more effective than trying to explain what you want to do in words, he said.

The system is being used at several work stations in Evans Hall and the reaction is largely favorable. It is something of a challenge for some workers, Elias said, because it is like learning a new language.

Susan Foster, UD vice president of information technologies, said she is impressed with the interface and plans to adopt it for use at several computer sites around campus.

"The device is the result of new thinking about the 'bandwidth' that constrains the physical interaction between operator and computer," Foster said. "It capitalizes on human gestures, which are easy to understand and execute. Once learned, like other motor skills, they are readily retained. The assistive qualities of the device also make it quite useful for those with limitations on upper extremity use."

The plug-and-play device, which requires no special software, should be of particular interest to programmers, graphic designers and editors, Foster said, and she is recommending they consider making use of a new technology that was "born and bred at UD and under continuing development here."

The University of Delaware is an equity partner in FingerWorks.

For more on FingerWorks, see the web site at [www.fingerworks.com].

Photos by Eric Crossan

This is great! (4, Funny)

nizo (81281) | about 12 years ago | (#4383265)

Eventually, he said, the computer password could be a gesture known only to the user.


Finally, my favorite one-fingered gesture can be used to choose windows from my GRUB menu.

Re:This is great! (3, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 12 years ago | (#4383294)

Heh... don't use it as a password though, it'll be a "weak" one!

Seriously, at least when I type my password, other people have a hard time seeing what I type. If I sit there gesturing at the computer though...

Re:This is great! (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 12 years ago | (#4383323)

And everyone in the computer lab could know your password by just looking at your hand. What a great idea.

My gesture password would certainly be the international sign for "jerk off".

-B

Re:This is great! (2)

phorm (591458) | about 12 years ago | (#4383426)

Then when you're away from your desk at night, and the janitor is getting jiggy at PC station, he suddenly unlocks your root password and ends up erasing your critical report.

Security caught some guy working after-hours browsing porn on my boss's computer. She ordered a new keyboard and mouse first thing the next morning - phorm

Gesture Interface (2)

teamhasnoi (554944) | about 12 years ago | (#4383272)

I can think of one gesture I use all the time while using my computer...it's not really a command, but it does tend to simplify things.

other useful gestures... (5, Funny)

gosand (234100) | about 12 years ago | (#4383280)

To open a file, you rotate your hand as if opening a jar; to zoom or de-zoom, you expand or contract your hand.

This would be great for browsers...

making a fist and moving the hand in an up-and-down motion will go to www.persiankitty.com

extending only the middle finger on the left hand will go to www.riaa.com

extending only the middle finger on the right hand will go to www.mpaa.com

extending both middle fingers will send you to www.microsoft.com

trekkies out there... (2)

kipple (244681) | about 12 years ago | (#4383285)

isn't this a dream come true? now you can play star trek and have your computer react at your movements when you just smoothly touch the keyboard... wow :)

ALso, I can only imagine IF such keyboard becomes wide spread, how many beautiful UI would be designed in the free software community.. it's just a matter of adding new "meta" things to the "mouse" movements...
(I want to kill -9 applications by closing my fist like the Emperor in Star Wars - the Return of the Jedi.. "we will kill them...")

why in the free software..? because I'm quite sure that a UI for a closed-source OS will take much longer time to spread - or just much more money.

cool.

Re:trekkies out there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383394)

Dude, that was fucking gay. Especially the part about open-source.

Price? (3, Interesting)

zoombat (513570) | about 12 years ago | (#4383287)

Nifty idea, but I can't seem to find a price for it.. might just be the /. effect, but all the google cache pages I've found just say "price $" without an amount.

Anyone know the price of these things?

Somebody has to say it... (4, Funny)

Rude Turnip (49495) | about 12 years ago | (#4383301)

"This is not just a little step in improving the mouse, this is the first step in a new way of communicating with the computer through gestures and the movements of your hands. This is, after all, one of the ways humans interact."

This thing is going to be *HUGE* in Italy.

One question. (1)

teamhasnoi (554944) | about 12 years ago | (#4383303)

Will this interface support punching the monitor?

Scalability? (1)

monadicIO (602882) | about 12 years ago | (#4383304)

While new UI devices are always fun, I seriously doubt how scalable and how expressive these are going to be. For someone who makes moderate use of shell programming facilities, I really see no good alternative to typing out "for i in `cat $i`;do...done". I see no universally intuitive way of expressing this action using any mouse or hand gestures. Also, how easy is it to "program" gestures? Can I make macros/functions (with arguments?????) to do things I do often? In general, I'm very skeptical of new UIs claiming to increase productivity manifold because they are "closer to the way we think". I think it is very important for any new UI to specify the particular context (or group of users) for which it is meant.

Re:Scalability? (2)

WinterSolstice (223271) | about 12 years ago | (#4383552)

This is a classical issue with this sort of tech.

I myself, however, used to use a chord style keyboard, and found that a specific chord worked well for some things (int, char, while, HTML etc) it was painfully slow for the things like &this and *pThat. People (other than us) seem to think that a keyboard should adapt to fit English.

Programmers would probably prefer a keyboard done in a slightly different language :)

Now where the heck is my if{ key...

-WS

Why not use brain control instead? (1)

ngoy (551435) | about 12 years ago | (#4383308)

I would think they would move towards more mind driven typing techniques by harnessing the speech to text technology of something like Dragon Dictate and matching that with the technology from this [slashdot.org] .

You figure the tech behing Dragon Dictate could learn your thought patterns for words and translate that into words, rather than all these fruity gesture based systems. I want less physical movement not more dammit!

Shango

Laser keyboard. (2)

unicron (20286) | about 12 years ago | (#4383312)

Anyone remember seeing that laser keyboard a while back? A little device drew out keyboard on your desk in red light, and where you broke the beam was how it determined what key you had hit, really cool idea. Don't know if I could get to used to it thought without the clickity-clickity.

Re:Laser keyboard. (2)

phorm (591458) | about 12 years ago | (#4383397)

Clarify: Where is the laser situated? If it's projecting from above, then wouldn't you break beams for the lower keys when moving your hand towards the upper keys?

Any URL's, pictures?

Re:Laser keyboard. (2)

Dannon (142147) | about 12 years ago | (#4383543)

Here's [slashdot.org] the slashdot story. Unfortunately, the Yahoo story's gone.

Iirc, the device was situated on the desk/table, a few inches away from the user's fingers, with the source of the beam raised slightly above table level and shining down at an angle. And, also iirc, it worked with some sort of sonar method, detecting the thumps of your fingers on the surface you had it on. The idea was that this light-projecter would be small enough fit in one's pocket, making it a great way to plug a full-size keyboard into a handheld when on the road.

Zero force sounds not nice (3, Interesting)

RealAlaskan (576404) | about 12 years ago | (#4383322)

Their gesture-based system is nothing like a keyboard, but I'm still comparing it to my old IBM model M, which has the wonderful, mechanical, click which I can both feel and hear. That feedback works wonders for me; I can type faster on this than on the modern, squishy, low-force keyboards.

The system is intended to replace the keyboard AND the mouse. I like the sound of that part. If you try to use a mouse, you waste a lot of typing time moving back and forth from the keyboard to the mouse. This would really help out there. Of course, keyboard shortcuts accomplish the same thing. They say:

... the communication power of their system is "thousands of times greater" than that of a mouse, which uses just a single moving point as the main input. Using this new technology, two human hands provide 10 points of contact, with a wide range of motion for each, thus providing thousands of different patterns, each of which can mean something different to the computer.
That all sounds a lot like emacs and its key-chords.

They say that it will reduce repetitive stress problems, but I wonder. Is tapping your fingers on a pad, or twisting your wrist, really that different than typing? If you have to do the same operations over and over, aren't you going to eventually get stressed?

Can someone please tell me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383326)

Can someone please tell me how come /. never gets /.ed?

Hmmmmm (3, Funny)

Hamster Of Death (413544) | about 12 years ago | (#4383333)

I can see the porn industry jumping to adopt THIS technology!

This just in.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383339)

petswarehouse.com [petswarehouse.com] has been/.'ed. Keep up the good work!

mirror of the picture (1)

dildatron (611498) | about 12 years ago | (#4383341)

I got a copy of their (not very good) picture before there server started smoking:

Keyboard Picture [boisestate.edu]

(Apologies to my university's bandwidth).

Re:mirror of the picture (1)

dildatron (611498) | about 12 years ago | (#4383365)

NITPICKERS:

I hereby would like to acknowledge that I used the wrong "their" in the above statement. "There" should be "Their". Please excuse me.

HandGear from DSI Technologies (1)

[l0l]Bobo (39241) | about 12 years ago | (#4383350)

Nothing new, folks.

Check out DSI Technologies [dato.com] . Go to their product page to have a look at their multipoint touchpad called HandGear. It does exactly that. They have drivers for various applications including 3DSMax. I've tried this thing here at discreet, it works amazingly well; the "jar opening" movement rotates objects, stretching out your hand zooms, etc, as in the article in this story.

Oh my god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383367)

Minority Report (3, Interesting)

Cyno01 (573917) | about 12 years ago | (#4383371)

Is it just me or does this seem kind of like the interface for the pre-crime computer in Minority Report, only without those half glove thingies.

Slashdot Daily Odds @# +1; Informative @# (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383372)

Bush does not serve 2nd term: 1-2

Cheney does not serve 2nd term: 1-50

bin Laden found working in CIA headquarters: 3-1

W taped scoring coke on H street: 6-1

U.S. declares war on Columbia: 100-1

U.N. Security Council issues sanctions against
U.S. war crimes in Iraq: 2-1

Tony Blair marries George W. Bush 40-1

Donald Rumsfeld stars as Dr. Strangelove in the
remake of Dr. Strangelove 2-5

Airy Fleischer runs for Israeli presidency 4-5

Gestures Are Fun... (1)

Tsali (594389) | about 12 years ago | (#4383375)

haiku

To surf to MS,
Gesture broomstick in arse in
quick ramrod action.

/haiku

Sign language versus typing? (1)

MisterSquid (231834) | about 12 years ago | (#4383377)

From the article: Imagine trying to communicate with another human being using just a mouse and a keyboard. It works, but it is slow and tedious.

Now, I'm not debunking the potential of a gesture-based interface, but something seems off about this remark. I'm thinking, for example, about text-based communication like oh, I don't know, Instant Messaging, CLI, posting on /.

I can't see all forms of human-to-human and human-to-machine communication will be enhanced by gesture-based interfaces.

Other uses of gestures (2, Interesting)

certron (57841) | about 12 years ago | (#4383386)

While I'm sure others have mentioned some novel uses, how about a 'killer app' for this technology? Why not finger painting? The only problem I see is that I don't know exactly where the processing is done... Does the device itself turn pinch/flick into cut/paste or does the device do a little processing and have the computer figure out what the gesture was? (I'm thinking that most of the processing goes on inside the device itself, since it says at the end of the article that it is plug-and-play and requires no special software. Perhaps it is just a keyboard/mouse to the computer?)

This is still pretty cool, just imagine playing something like the Best. Fighting Game. Ever. (Soul Calibur, IMO) using gestures instead of 'cycle-quarter left, x+y'. You could have hand-fu instead of finger-foo. hehe... Maybe I should trademark hand-fu. ... or not.

What about other hand-tracking technologies? When gestures are mentioned, I think of the PowerGlove (or DataGlove, depending) and then I think of the Nintendo U-Force controller-thing. http://www.nesplayer.com/database/accessories/ufor ce.htm

Who knows, it could be cool. (Maybe I should read the previous article, too.)

Touch me! (0)

EggMan2000 (308859) | about 12 years ago | (#4383389)

It looks like my old CollecoVision!

The touchpad idea is not too shabby, but I will certainly insist on a mechanical keyboard. I don't want to have to re-learn how to type.


Clicking = good.


Another aspect is the idea of "a very complex gestural language between man and machine." Why do I envision a theremin [thereminworld.com] . Let's face it, programmers are not neccesarly the most nimble of people.


The idea of a password being encrypted in a gesture is also a step backwards, imo. Why not just use biometrics?

Fantastic News Source (4, Funny)

L. VeGas (580015) | about 12 years ago | (#4383391)

University of Delaware's webpage

I'm glad to see this wonderful source of information being featured on /. I wish you could also promote my other primary information source,
Bakersfield Community College Gazette.

Re:Fantastic News Source (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4383445)

go to hell

Douglas Adams saw it first (4, Funny)

MrEd (60684) | about 12 years ago | (#4383402)

This is getting closer and closer to that ideal user interface - something that's so complicated that you just wave your hand in its' general direction and hope that it does what you want.


I like my interfaces old-school. Dials and knobs, please.

A couple of pages from the Wayback Machine (1)

MarkedMan (523274) | about 12 years ago | (#4383406)

Both sites are hopelessly slashdotted. (We only slashdot the ones we love...) Here is an old page listing reasons why we should use this product. Reasons [archive.org] and another one, even older, that shows a picture. Picture [archive.org]

At last (1, Redundant)

buzzdecafe (583889) | about 12 years ago | (#4383410)

Now I can give my PC the finger and it will know enough to be insulted.

I have one of these. (5, Informative)

pjcreath (513472) | about 12 years ago | (#4383418)

I have their Stealth programmer's QWERTY keyboard. It's nice. I got it when my mousing hand was starting get some lovely RSI symptoms.

The gestures make web browsing very pleasant. The gestures they picked for common operations are quite intuitive, and you end up not even having to think about how you're gesturing. It's quite similar to the lack of thought required to hit your favorite hotkey sequence, but it feels a little more natural.

It's also quite nice not having to move my hands at all to switch from typing to mousing. Even without gestures, this features is very helpful, especially if you type with your keyboard on your lap.

But now to the bad part (and the reason why the gestures are essential): it's all a flat surface. There's almost no tactile feedback. There are little bumps on the home row so you can find your place, but that's it. It's extraordinarily easy to get disoriented if you don't watch your hands.

As far as the folks at FingerWorks are aware, people have only gotten up to 60-70 wpm on their keyboards. (Last I checked I had gotten up to 55.) I cruise at 120 on a mechanical keyboard, so for intense typing, I still fall back to my standard keyboard. But for most of the non-coding time in front of the computer, the Stealth is great.

To give you an idea of some of the gestures (and how on earth this thing works):

- A single finger tap is a keypress
- Two adjacent fingers down + dragging moves the mouse
- Two adjacent fingers tapping is a mouse click
- All five fingers down simultaneously is rest position -- this is how you can reorient your hands on home row without typing gobbledygook

Those are the biggies. You can read the full list of their gestures on their web site. I'd link to it, but it appears to be /.ed.

I do have to say that the folks at FingerWorks are incredibly responsive. I complained that their sensitivity to double-keys was too low (it regularly ignored my second "f" on something like "off"), they sent me a firmware update within a day which fixed it.

So they're definitely tweaking things and very helpful.

Oh, and did I mention that it supports Linux, Mac OS, and Windows? And it has gestures for emacs actions and other common Linux activities.

What?! (1)

Exiler (589908) | about 12 years ago | (#4383513)

No Vi? =P

Re:I have one of these. (1)

RajivSLK (398494) | about 12 years ago | (#4383538)

But, may I ask the question that seems to be on alot of peoples minds?

How much did it cost?

wtf? (-1, Flamebait)

odyrithm (461343) | about 12 years ago | (#4383444)

omg, what was the film called now.. "minority report" jesus, they film it slashdot and monks bite it.. my god.. tossers, If slashdot was a dog Id have shot it by now.

Good idea, but... (2)

eldurbarn (111734) | about 12 years ago | (#4383478)

Good idea, but I wonder about folks with disabilities.

Take a look at the usual GUI: for example, it's very difficult for a blind person to use Windoze.

The article talks about 10 points of contact (i.e. fingers) instead of just 1 (the mouse). What of people who don't have normal hands? If this catches on, would not most interfaces suddenly need their users to be able-bodied?

Re:Good idea, but... (3, Insightful)

Casca (4032) | about 12 years ago | (#4383569)

Would you prefer all innovations are geared for the lowest common denominator?

I want an interface that is designed to be the most efficient/powerful for use, with all of my relevant senses taken into consideration.

If someone else needs an interface with the restriction that the sense of sight cannot be a factor, then make one for him/her that is the most efficient/powerful with those restrictions accounted for.

I don't think the two will be the same, and I don't see why one should suffer with a lesser interface based on limitations he/she doesn't have.

Won't work... (1)

Luke-Jr (574047) | about 12 years ago | (#4383570)

I don't see this going anywhere... I'd rather use kb & mouse. On the other hand, I heard (probably on /.) of some mouse that follows your eyes and lets you use blinks to click... That would probably be more usable.

Oh really? (1)

eno2001 (527078) | about 12 years ago | (#4383573)

From the article:

> "Imagine trying to communicate with another
> human being using just a mouse and a keyboard.
> It works, but it is slow and tedious."

Tell me about it. I post to Slashdot, write e-mail, IRC and IM all the time. What else is new?
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