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Wireless Keyboard... Without The Keyboard

CmdrTaco posted more than 14 years ago | from the input-this dept.

Technology 148

MindJob writes "Berkeley's Sensor & Actuator Center has developed a virtual keyboard that allows you to glue 10 tiny chips to your fingernails and type away anywhere. The chips are composed of tiny, battery powered MEMS, or Microelectromechanical Systems, that work by tracking the location of your fingers and transmitting via a low-powered radio to a nearby receiver that will work regardless of the computer platform."

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I love these kinds of gadgets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450515)

Although I rarely have to get out of bed/off the couch already, there is still the annoying laptop/keyboard to deal with.

I guess I could buy one of those monitor stands with keyboard rest, but it looks like those force the arms into an uncomfortable angle (if one is lying in bed/couch). This could be the answer to my needs.


Re:Uhrm... Security Issues? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450516)

All normal keyboards emit radio signals that can be received with the proper equipment. This would be no different.

Re:Uhrm... Security Issues? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450517)

True.. Wouldn't this make it somewhat easier however? -E

My Invention!!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450518)

This is my invention! This has always been my idea! I was going to make millions! No!!!!!

Well I still have one idea for it... now that the cat's out of the bag, I may as well let it out for all to see.

On my keyboard, you were going to wear gloves. The sensors would have been on the the "palm" part of the fingertips in the gloves. My idea was, you put the gloves on, then put your two hands together and interlock your fingers. Then just sit with your hands in your lap and type. The senosrs would be on the "palm" part of the fingertip and would connect with nodes that would be on the back of the hands (on the glove) on the corresponding positions to where your fingers would go down. I always wondered about the software filter of figuring out whether you're trying to type a t, g, or b, for example, but I figured it was possible by just using a context-sensetive approach. Looks like MIT's got it figured out though.

Doesn't this sound better than gluing chips on your fingernails, maybe?

btw, not A.C., but email's down: rkirk@[nospam}

Re:Bad Typists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450519)

Yes, but if you're a trained typist like I am then its great because the main benefit of training is that you don't need to look at the keys very often or at all really. I think that would be cool. I've always figured there had to be some kind of replacement for the keyboard. This might cut down on instances of that Repeated Stress Syndrome that typists often suffer from as your fingers wouldn't be so ocnfined and you'd no longer be hitting anything hard.

Re:Bad Typists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450520)

Those who cannot type punish themselves every day for their inefficiencies. Those who can, don't even notice that they can, and can't imagine what it would be like to be unskilled at typing. Can you imagine a pianist who only use a few fingers?

Re:more key combinations available (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450521)

Mark this up through the roof! Me too! Etc etc...

Re:And another it-had-to-be-said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450522)

(This post contains humor. Please moderate accordingly.)

As the post remains unmoderated... :)

Use a sheet of paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450523)

Couldn't you just use a sheet of paper with all of the key positions on it? You'd still have a keyboard of sorts (the paper), but you could fold it up and put it in your wallet when you didn't need it =) and photocopy it or fax it to someone else who needed one =)

lil' help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450524)

Amerika is America
I believe you were referring to quadriplegia, a disorder that involves complete paralysis from the neck down.
Dokters is doctors
Electrode is correct, a small electronic emitter.

I remember I heard about this a while ago, but it didn't seem interesting enough at the time (what chance is it that I'm ever going to get such a device implanted in my head). I'm suprised it wasn't submitted to /..

Re:second time in a few week (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450525)

you probably read it in wired magazine, not here. it's in the most recent issue

dilbert knows about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450526)

There was a Dilbert comic about this exact same thing, except in the Dilbert world it was motion-sensing rings. The joke was that with engineers stumbling around waving their hands in front of their faces, people won't be able to tell the difference between them and bilthering idiots. :)

Once again Scott Adams predicts the future...

Re:Uhrm... Security Issues? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450527)

You can already do that, with a standard keyboard.

What do you think Tempest was designed for?

Re:Bad Typists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450528)

Sounds like your a bad candidate for keybard zen.

Re:This could make for some "interative" porn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450529)

I'd prefern interactive porn :)

Re:Uhrm... Security Issues? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450530)

What do you think Tempest was designed for?
Developing lightning reflexes for our future fighter pilots.

Re:Bad Typists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450531)

only 30? I type, using the same method, a few fingers, but not correctly. Somewhere around 50-80wpm depending on the keyboard and mood. Faster than most people I know. Although not faster than people I work with, many of whom use the same method I do, random chaos.

Re:Bad Typists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450532)

Sounds like you had a very bad piano teacher. :-(

Re:Bad Typists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450533)

It's remarkable how many people want to stick up for their own disabilities. Stand up from your wheel chair and WALK!

Re:Think of the applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450534)

In a world of computers, people who can't type already are handicapped!

Re:A better way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450535)

What do you mean eighty by twenty-FIVE? Don't you mean the canonical twenty-four?

Re:Forget the keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450536)

Hm... Dm7 would be fun.

Why just a keyboard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450537)

I think that this idea would be great if it was implemented as a mouse type interface... standard 2-D input would be easy enough, just define a couple of bounding areas or track relative motions, then wave your hand around in the air while wiggling your index finger. 3-D input is just a trivial step past that, might even be easier to implement. I can't stop thinking about how easy it would be to model shapes in your favorite 3-D program...

There was one of these in Idoru (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450538)

The characters in one of Gibson's novel Idoru used devices exactly like this.

Bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450539)

This was a Dilbert.

Re:Uhrm... Security Issues? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450551)

Radio waves fall off with the cube of the distance, you see how far a standard cordless phone goes, and that's a really high powered cordless device, low power won't go anywhere. By the time any of it reaches the outside of your building (after also being hindered by walls and such), it will be below the noise floor and basically be impossible to reconstruct. I assume you're not worried about security within your own building?

A different twist. (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450552)

Here's an idea. With the advent of Organic LED's how about a HUD or even a pair of glasses that you can see through clear as day but when you look down you see a virtual keyboard. Maybe something like sensors in your hands that activate when placed together to create the virtual location of the keyboard. That way if you want to move the keyboard you just "click you heals together" actually your thumbs or the like and the keyboard moves to that location. With that us H&P's can still use the keyboard and the pro typist can go about it the blind way.

Uhrm... Security Issues? (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1450553)

Low powered radio? Won't this cause a nice broadcast of your keystrokes (passwords, credit card details, personal emails) to whoever would like to decode them? It may be low powered and Im not sure on the range, but surely this is an issue?

Re:Uhrm... Security Issues? (1)

Tomahawk (1343) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450554)

Don't a lot of wireless keyboard user infrared...?


Re:Bad Typists? (1)

Drey (1420) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450555)

No, definitely not just you. I use about 2 fingers on each hand and, like you, manage to keep up a very good WPM with an OK typo rate. I'll just keep waiting for the jack in my head or an inskin.
Making iDirt 1.82 a safer place, one bug at a time.

A better way (1)

monk (1958) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450556)

I agree, emulating a keyboard with this would be unimaginative and wasteful. Fortunately there is a much better approach--thumbcode [] . I can chord, but it's just not as satisfying as having a keyboard, but a suspect signing would be even better with practice. Not to mention the looks you would get when you wire your office, home and virtual pets to respond to gestures.

Now, a set of these and some display contacts with a resolution of at least 80 by 25 characters and my life would be complete. I could Angband [] right through meetings.

Re:Kind of like these? (1)

monk (1958) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450557)

That sounds pretty cool. Do you still have any of the old code/hardwear specs around? That would make a great addition over at the wearables newsgroup home page [] . If you don't have time to put it up there email me the specs, and if I can get it to work, I'll document it and get it up with the credits to you and your friend. Then I'll hack the hell out of it for my personal use :)

Brain Fart (1)

monk (1958) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450558)

80x25 is a Wyse 150 with status bar, oops.

Here (3)

monk (1958) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450559)

It think this [] might be what he was talking about.

Re:Wasn't there a Dilbert cartoon about this? (1)

Old Man Kensey (5209) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450561)

I think you're thinking of the one where he's buying a new computer. The salesman shows him the newest "mini-micro" -- "you glue chips to your fingernails, and it automatically senses where your fingers are at all times." In the final panel the salesdroid says "Of course, you may not want your computer to know where your fingers are at all times." At which point his own finger-top pipes up and says "Dave, about last night..."

One Click (1)

eGabriel (5707) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450562)

Hmm, did your novel have anything about One-Click Shopping in it?

Re:Bad Typists? (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450563)

not if the typing that you do is enough to get by... I don't type "correctly". I use a method that is good for me. I can't see how it is hurting them any if they aren't typing long documents or need speed efficiency.

Re:Darn, I know what this means (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450564)


And another it-had-to-be-said... (0)

pen (7191) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450565)

  • Wow! Just imagine a Beowulf cluster of these things!
  • Yeah, but will it run Linux?
  • Sounds like Microsoft is behind this... it doesn't mention Linux or Open-Source.
(This post contains humor. Please moderate accordingly.)


Exactly except... (1)

tilly (7530) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450566)

The way that I do it is



Darn, I know what this means (2)

tilly (7530) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450567)

No more drumming my fingers on the table when I am thinking!


Like I Said... (1)

waldoj (8229) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450568)

Yeah, like I said [] . :)

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450569)

hands in front of our faces moving about rapidly like we are wizards casting spells?
You're absolutely right, and I can't wait. This is why I'm excited about Bluetooth, because of Personal Area (wireless) Networks and applications that look like magic.

We'll all end up like the technomage in B5's Crusade spinoff yet...

Bluetooth - sorry, can't help myself. (2)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450570)

If everyone else can go on about interactive porn, I can have another Bluetooth [] diatribe.

Imagine being able to use this device and a Bluetooth-enabled PalmOS device [] to enter data. Could be better than the Stowaway [] . Bluetooth would also solve some of the security problems mentioned by someone else.

Just think of this as a cordless data entry device for a hidden PC - combine with a virtual display and you'd have an invisible computer system that could be used walking down the street...

Nifty.. but.. (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450572)

Nice gadget but I still like the doodad that fits like a strip of tape across the back of each hand and uses joint stresses to figure out what you were supposedly typing. I always wanted a pair of gloves that used that rigged to work w/ VR in a more general system. :) Could track join movement of your shoulders to see what your arms were doing too. :)

Re:Kind of like these? (2)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450573)

Similar though the ones I've played with were all homemade (I designed, someone else wired em.) or in books. The ones we had were meant to leave the hands totally usable for real world tasks. so they were simply slightly sticky straps across the back of the hand w/ loops around the base of each finger to help keep them in place. They had a sensor just behind the knuckle of each finger and had a small bundle of data wires that ran to a little wrist band gadget that had a mini processing circuit and a transmitter on it. The wrist unit was also supposed to track wrist motion but we never got that far. It worked pretty well considering the price and the fact a couple of clueless halfwits were making it. Main problem we had was keeping the damn thing calibrated as the sensors tended to slip around a little and we had to calibrate it for each individual user since it had problems working w/ people of different hand sizes. It also didn't work very well on people w/ fleshy hands. It worked very well on my hands which happen to be very thin and boney which seemed to make tracking movements easier. The software used a sort of wireframe of the hand to use the map the sensor data to the VR equiv since we only had sensor data from that one point instead of at each joint which meant it took a lot more work to figure things out but it did seem to be possible on most people to calculate each joint position just from that one sensor per finger. Never tried it on a full 3D model, just wireframes on my old 486 but it seemed to be pretty fun anyway. Considering the things only cost us about $40 per hand to make I'm surprised we haven't seen any similar products sold from joystick companies or something. It'd be perfect for games. Really it was so light weight you barely noticed it was there. No more than the average watch.

Bad Typists? (1)

Snobintosh (13364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450574)

I manage about 40 WPM with only one hand, because I only have one hand (that has enough coordination to hit the keys, that is). After a while of typing you begin to use "preemptive typing" - your brain thinks what key it to be typed next and moves the center of the hand accordingly. No finger has a set key - whatever finger is closest hits that key. With a small keyboard (such as a newton keyboard) I believe it is actually more efficient to type with one hand. And yeah, my rate varies greatly with mood.

Perhaps they could add an evolving algorithm to the typing interpreter - so that as you begin to type differently using the wireless technology because there are no physical limitations, the program compensates - resulting a gradual shift to the most natural typing position. Who knows? Is the program based on the relative positions of the fingers, relative to the center of the hand? If so, all you would need to do is relax your hand by your side and type.... or perhaps the virtual keys would become smaller than physically pressable, so you would merely twitch the appropriate fingers.. or use chords... Again, it would be interesting to watch the general evolution of interpretive typing.

Deja Vu (1)

cdegroot (14366) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450575)

Funny. Yesterday I was cleaning out some old stuff and hit an attempt by yours truly to write a SF novel some eight years ago - chips glued to fingernails in order to control computers were very prominent in it. I should probably sue someone, shouldn't I? ;-)

Luckily, I was wrong on the Net - mine was based on a CCITT standard, not on TCP/IP...

Lee Press On Keyboard? (1)

Mojojojo (15516) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450577)

It's like those Lee press on nails.

What about... (1)

webslacker (15723) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450579)

What about those times when you have to scratch your head or stroke your facial hair to think? Or pick sand out of your eye (or even boogers out of your nose)? Or reach for a glass of water, or pick up a pencil you dropped? Or swat a fly on your monitor?

Even if there were some foot pedal or other device to turn they keyboard on/off, that's too weird. Just gimme a good old keyboard.

Re:Exactly except... (1)

lazlo (15906) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450580)

Strange, I go exactly backwards of that...


The other way seems somehow... wrong.

Forget the keyboard (1)

Bryan Andersen (16514) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450581)

Forget the keyboard, use a chording style instead. With only one hand and chording one can do all possibly key combinations easily. No need for tactile feadback either. Keys are struck by relative positions of the fingers in relationship to each other. Each finger is capible of 3 easy to determin states (up, middle, down) and the thumb is capible of 5 states (up, down, left, right, middle) or more. That gives you 405 possible combinations. Not all are useable by all people as some people tend to move the pinky with the ring finger, but that can be worked around with alternate chords or finger training. To keep from typing while using the hand for other things, you asign a sequence of moves to turn on and off the keyboard. Like balling it into a fist or strumming the fingers in a wave pattern. To bad this was already patened a few years ago or I would have then.

Re:And another it-had-to-be-said... (1)

QuMa (19440) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450584)

The parent of this post contains very little humour. Please moderate it accordingly.

Re:it has to be said .... (1)

the_tsi (19767) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450585)

I was really bummed to see this in the first slot. *I* wanted to post that! ARgh. :)

I've been living Dilbert all my life; this article just makes it better.. Especially since I've been in a "Wally Job" for the past three months and haven't been enjoying it one bit.


Re:Yeah, but... (1)

kipling (24579) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450586)

The problem with this is that we need tactile feedback, .... Tell me about it - my new toy [] (laptop+linux) has dead flat key caps. It wrecks my touch-typing.

Yeah, but... (1)

BuckshotJones (48985) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450591)

What is the tolerance of these things? Do you have to move your fingers in perfect motion, or can you wave your hands around? Where is the sensor located? I'd think the best place to put it would be on your wrist, that way you can walk around the room, and move your arms without worrying about "mistyping".

The problem with this is that we need tactile feedback, otherwise we can't easily know we are "typing" a letter.

Re:Bad Typists? (2)

Tom Christiansen (54829) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450592)

Thanks for spreading my keyboard zen [] meme. :-)

For those of you who are thinking about speech as the interface of the future, doubtless you are correct for some cases. However, there will always be a place for precision work. Think about CAD programs. Can you imagine just speaking to them and getting the accuracy you need? Plus, until we have programming languages that are redesigned not to use punctuation that need be spoken, you'll be able to enter your code much easily with a keyboard.

Re:Bad Typists? (2)

Tom Christiansen (54829) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450593)

Thinking of what you do with a paltry two-bit interface saddled with inefficient seek latencies, imagine what you could do wit a ten-bit one that's distance optimized to decrease seek time. Mr Rogers says, "Can you say fatter pipe, boys and girls?" :-)

Thinking of what you can do with your eyes constantly switching between screen and keyboard, think now what you could do if you could leave your brain in the virtual world displayed on the screen and never have to look down.

Re:it has to be said .... (1)

Heggsy (55536) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450594)

It appears to be a case of life imitating Dilbert.

Come to think of it, I work with a Wally. Well, I do until Jan 4th, when I escape and go to work for a nicer company which is paying me, in part, to play with new technology. I'm in heaven.

Why this is good (1)

anonymous loser (58627) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450595)

I've already seen plenty of comments regarding the fact that they only use 2 fingers to type, or there's already a keyboard in front of their computer, etc.

The point of this technology is not that it will replace the keyboard sitting on your desk, but that for those with a desire to gargoyle will have an effective input method. I know everyone says speech recognition is the way to go, but I've been keeping up with the technology, and it's just not ready for prime time. Also, what if you don't want everyone to see/hear what you're inputting? Sounds like a virtual keyboard has plenty of application in wearable computing.

Hunt and Pecker! (3)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450597)

Can I put all 10 chips on one finger for my H&P typing?

Many applications (1)

froz (69551) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450599)

Just think of the applications besides a virtual keyboard.
Gives new meaning to the term 'air guitar'.

how does this really work ..... (4)

taniwha (70410) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450600)

Think about how we all type - we have to align our fingers with the keyboard - touch typists find the home positions tactilly on the keyboard and type relative to them, people like me who never learned to touch type have to look occasionally to orient their fingers every so often. It's also a mostly 2-d thing - you are typing onto a 2-d surface.

Typing in the air has no frames of reference (unless you have some VR keyboard and goggles etc) and it's a 3-d sort of thing - no hard 2-d thing to stop your fingers at the end of very stroke.

Instead I suspect it's probably getting close to the time when we can come up with a new typing metaphor - hopefully something a little easier on my wrists - maybe 'typing' with my arms relaxed in my lap or something. With something like this a form of virtual chord keyboard might work well too meaning we could get away from the positional locations of keys on a keyboard which might be more suited for virtual keyboards.

Has anyone out there become proficient with a chord keyboard of some sort? can you type as fast or are you limited more by the time between chords?

Of course with cool MEMS technology like this just think of the interesting musical instruments we can create!

Kind of like these? (2)

Ribo99 (71160) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450601)

Virtual Technologies CyberGlove® []

We have a pair of these in our lab hooked up to one of our SGIs. Pretty nifty toys, actually did a bit of programming for them (nothing too fancy). The API is fairly easy to mess with.
There's nothing like flipping someone off and watching a real-time rendered hand do it on your monitor.... :)
You can even get them with little vibrators [] on the tip of each finger and on the palm to give a sort of tactile feedback. You can program these to react any way you like. The most useful way is to increase the intensity of the vibration the harder you grip or press against a virtual object.
Don't get any sick ideas... :)

Can't sleep...Clown will eat me...

Think of the applications (2)

Ace Mccoy (71694) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450603)

Imagine the implications for the handicapped

Users of sign language could now have realtime translations... the chips would automatically detect the hand configuration and send it to a PC screen... maybe this would make sign language the new language of pc 's? Or a form of it. Consider all the different configurations anf combinations of hand movements and contortions... enough to equal a 101keyboard plus extras for shortcuts and such... but would this rate as ergonomic? And would it can a whole new for of RSI??

This will be different (1)

dsplat (73054) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450604)

I thought it was hard the first time I typed on one of the cheap modern keyboards that provides very little resistance and no click. Typing without a keyboard is taking that to an extreme. And I just started paying more attention to the way I type. My junior high school typing teacher would be appauled. From what I can tell, I use three finger and my thumb on my left hand and one finger and my thumb on my right. Not to mention frequently stretching them. I do wonder how it will interpret odd typing styles.

Then, of course, there is the whole issue of how well it can discriminate chords. I use Emacs, The One True Editor [] (C-0 M-x all-hail-emacs), which is well known for some of the secondary meanings of its acronym [] including "Esc Meta Alt Ctrl Shift". We just express it more compactly as M-A-C-S-. Humor aside, will I be able to type M-C-v or C-@ or other three key chords with ease?

Why keyboards (3)

dvduijn (73663) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450607)

Why bother about keyboards. Deaf people's sign language, and in particular the `hand alphabeth' seem to me tailormade for this application.
If the patern-recognition software is so good it can make out which key you think you are pressing, making out what sign your hand is making by the relative position of the fingertips should be just as easy.

Wasn't there a Dilbert cartoon about this? (1)

Tony Hammitt (73675) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450608)

Dilbert is standing there and notices that someone else is also staring into space twitching his fingers. He asks if the other guy is an engineer, and he replies 'No, just a moron. Common mistake'

But, for us geeks, something like that could save major wrist strain. I'm all for the idea.

more key combinations available (1)

cutevoice (73965) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450609)

Now if we attach these little things to appropriate body parts, not only do we get the usual left-ctrl left-shift, we can now get left-toe, right-toe, or any other body parts (use your imagination).

Maybe one day we can ctrl-x-left-toe.

This is VR (you've missed the point) (1)

gbnewby (74175) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450610)

Yes, this doo-dad could be useful for replacing a keyboard that you could otherwise sit in front of.

But the real appeal is for when you're not sitting in front of anything, or can't see it - like when you're wearing a head-mounted display....the "keyboard" could be something displayed to your eyes...but in the real world, maybe it's just a piece of foam rubber (or some other ergonomic surface).

And, if the sensors are there, then who says they'd only be good for typing on a simulated keyboard? What about virtual sculpture, fingerpainting, graphical control, etc.

This is like the Nintendo PowerGlove (fairly lame video game input device), but way higher resolution and all 10 fingers.

Not a problem (1)

MostlyHarmless (75501) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450611)

They would have to be standing right next to you to hear the signals because low powered radio is just that -- low powered. If it's only designed to work within a certain range of a computer, then the eavesdropper would have to be that close too. Although I _can_ see this problem happening in offices where people are close together but can't see each other directly.

Re:Bad Typists? (1)

shockwaverider (78582) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450612)

Or you could carry a sheet of paper with the keys drawn on it. Your soulution doesn't HAVE to use electronic technology you know!

Temporary solution. (1)

Chilles (79797) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450613)

I don't think this will be really "in vogue" for a long time. I recently saw a tv program about a man that had had a sort of electrode implanted in his head that allowed him to control a pointer on a screen simply by thinking.
Together with a chip attached to one of my optical sinews instead of a monitor and a wireless link to my home computer I could play quake during all boring periods of my life.

Re:Temporary solution. (1)

Chilles (79797) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450614)

I'm still looking for proof.
The tv program was dutch (since I'm from Holland) but the research was done in Amerika somewhere at a university hospital or something. The guy with the implant had a....(sorry guys don't know the english word, spinal problem where you can't move the part of your body that's below a certain damaged point in your spine)....He couldn't move anything below his mouth I believe. Dokters implanted a sort of "electrode" (translation from dutch commentary) in his brain that was very sensitive to the electrical signals produced by the brain tissue directly surrounding it. After progressing through several stages of "translating" those signals they were now able to let the guy control the movement of a cursor over a picture of a keyboard on a monitor and he could also "think" a "click". He could actually type his name this way.

Wired (1)

Red Dwarf (82569) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450617)

Is the source of this article taken from the magazine Wired of January 2000????? How "Bizarre", I've seen the same thing in Wired last weekend...

Re:how does this really work ..... (1)

The-Corruptor (87309) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450618)

Of course with cool MEMS technology like this just think of the interesting musical instruments we can create!

That brings a whole new meaning to the slang: "Havein' a quick strum..." Now you really will be playing with yourself! ;)


CTS and other wrist issues. (1)

Lonesmurf (88531) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450620)

Wasn't it recently proven that CTS was caused by the lack of strain that repetitive motions such as typing on today's 'soft' keyboards? I'm sorry that I don't have any references to where I read that, damn.

Anyways, my point is, wouldn't this compound an issue like that? I mean, now instead of typing a keyboard with minimal resistance, you type into the air.. with almost no resistance at all.

Any ideas? Anyone know where I can find that reference??


it has to be said .... (4)

jsm2 (89962) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450622)

(Altogether now ....)

"I'm not entirely sure that I want my computer knowing where my fingers are at all times"

Yes yes yes, sorry, and all that. I resisted the temptation to say that for at least a minute. Hate me.


Re:it has to be said .... (1)

cprincipe (100684) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450623)

What output do you get while repeatedly giving your co-workers the finger?

I'm not sure this is real (1)

fakeamerican (102624) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450625)

Is it possible that this device does not exist? I think it might be fake, because this month's Wired (not online yet) features this product on a page of what appear to be creations of the future -- not devices that actually exist. (I just glanced at the page, but that was my interpretation of it.) Where is the actual page at RSAC that describes this device or research? I couldn't find it, and it's not mentioned among their research projects. Sorry if I was careless and just missed it. The thing in Wired is on their "Fetish" page, but the issue's theme is in part *future* developments. The BSAC "keyboard" is illustrated by some MEMS glued onto somebody's hand, but it says "Available in 2004" or some such. It's next to an AT&T "Crib-ready" webcam and a sleek remote-control helicopter that has a camera attached to it. In other words, I think Wired may have "invented" all these products, including the BSAC keyboard, for purposes of this millennial issue of their magazine. Can anyone actually confirm whether it is real or fake?

Re:Temporary solution. (1)

pingflood (105369) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450627)

This link [] provides some information; the company these guys started is located here in Atlanta, and has a website, but I cannot remember the name of it.

Re:Temporary solution. (1)

dexev (106608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450628)

I recently saw a tv program about a man that had had a sort of electrode implanted in his head that allowed him to control a pointer on a screen simply by thinking.

Did anybody else read this and say "Ooh, where do I get one of these?"

Anybody have a link to this info?

Re:how does this really work ..... (2)

Jbrecken (107271) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450629)

Instead I suspect it's probably getting close to the time when we can come up with a new typing metaphor Since this system records relative finger position, I'd imagine that it would be theoretically possible to let deaf people talk to their computers with Sign Language. Where that leaves the rest of us, I'm not sure.

Re:Bad Typists? (1)

Dman33 (110217) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450632)

Or you could carry a sheet of paper with the keys drawn on it

So then the point of a keyboardless keyboard would be....

Re:Uhrm... Security Issues? (1)

juhaz (110830) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450633)

Well, maybe easier than normal keyboard, but probably not easier than wireless keyboards.. as those also use radio just like this.

Bad Typists? (2)

TypicalNerd (111581) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450635)

Is it just me? I only use 3-5 of my fingers to type, and although I don't do it consciously, I do need to peek at the keys from time to time to physically hit the keys I think I'm hitting. I still manage about 30 wpm like this plus I can type just as well with one hand on the mouse and one on the keyboard. For this to work for crappy typists like myself, there would need to be a heads up display or VR goggles to provide a visual keyboard and it would have to allow any finger to hit any key, which I don't think this would allow.

Re:Why keyboards (1)

tooth (111958) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450636)

I was thinkiong something similart myself.

Kind of like Engelbarts' idea of a "chord" keyboard. Why not use "chords" to type the more common letters/words rather than having your fingers flying all over the place. Prob. slow you down more though? not sure. have to test :)

anyway, I'll have mine as a dvorak please ;)

second time in a few week (1)

ScutterBob (112397) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450637)

Uhmm didn't I just read about this a few weeks ago here? This is the second time recently you've run the same story twice.

Re:Temporary solution. (1)

BlacKat (114545) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450641)

But is that even possible? I'm taking it with a grain of salt unless someone can give me a link as proof... but the idea sounds quite interesting!


Re:Uhrm... Security Issues? (1)

jtjm (119743) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450642)

Presumably it wouldn't be too hard to encrypt the data (with a different cryptographic key for each "keyboard") to solve this problem.


Tactile Feedback- and the lack thereof (2)

jtjm (119743) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450643)

I can see these sensors being useful for short periods (perhaps in combination with small hand-held devices such as the palm pilot), but I don't see that they stand much chance of replacing the keyboard.

Firstly, one of the most important things when buying a keyboard is the feel of the keys- people's preferences vary here- personally, I like a "clicky" keyboard (like the Cherry range) rather than the membrane types.

Having no feedback at all would be very disconcerting. I don't quite understand how anyone but a perfect touch typist would know precisely where the keys were without any form of real keyboard, either. The bumps and ridges of the keys are essential to me in finding the right keys- typing on a desk would bound to be a little random.

And how long would it take to apply the sensors and calibrate them each time? It would be best if they were permanently fitted in such a way that they didn't interfere with other things we might want to do with our hands- about the only sensible location is under the fingernails, but unless there is a significant change in fashion, this eliminates at least 50% of the market.

I would have thought that sensors such as these might have a more useful application as part of a virtual reality "glove" or suchlike.


Gesture Recognition (1)

dadith (119849) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450644)

OK I took a small visit to google and found a rather good link collection [] about gesture recognition either using cameras or gloves. This things would make an interesting supplemet, especially if they could be permanently attached. (Maybe using bio-energy like those tracking devices mentioned a few days earlier).
Ciao, Peter

A few Thoughts (3)

dadith (119849) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450646)

I cant find the article, anyone has a Link?

Anyway, these don't sound too practical. A Keyboard is just there laying in front of the computer. If I want to type something, I just do it. For those sensors I *always* have to put them on, that sounds way to cumbersome just to type a few words on the computer to answer an email or post a ./ article. Implanting them would be a solution, only then it is quite difficult to switch them off ... ;) BTW, Typing on an invisible Keyboard without any feedback from the Keys sounds difficult. Personaly I would at last need the layout to be printed on the surface, better add a few structures to it so I can still type without looking down, so simlating a Keyboard with it isn't too attractive (for me). But it would be nice for recognising gestrues. Windows Bluescreen? Now, I think *everyone* can think about a gesture that would be perfectly suited to reboot the computer in that case, can't you? This would have quite some interesting applications and I think there are other projects about that. I remember one that was designed to recognize gesture language using cameras. Of course you need to track more that just the Fingers (which would require a very high resolution camers). Maybe a combination would be useful.

Hmmm, one camera focused to the Face, one (or two for some Kind of 3D) on the whole Body and these things on the Fingers and you put the action back into interaction ;)

Ciao, Peter

Hmmm... (2)

seaportcasino (121045) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450647)

Yeah, but what kind of idiots will we look like with our hands in front of our faces moving about rapidly like we are wizards casting spells? Hmm, actually I think I like that analogy: we ARE wizards anyway, so we might as well look like wizards. Ok, at this moment I copyright and patent all Wizard technology, so if I see you waving your hands around like a wizard, I'll cast my magic spell and rain you with a blizzard of lawyers!

Re:it has to be said .... (1)

348 (124012) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450651)

and transmitting via a low-powered radio to a nearby receiver that will work regardless of the computer platform.

Wonder if my fingernails would work on my Palm.

Odd Paradox. . Sort of.

Maybe useful... (2)

abiogenesis (124320) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450653)

If it is combined with cellulars, palms or even notebook computers where the main problem with the size is the keyboard, it would be somewhat useful.

This could make for some "interative" porn. (1)

ratsdliw (125847) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450654)

Seriously though, this would be the killer app. Hehe, this is one of the more sinister uses of this so called "keyboard".

Re:more key combinations available (1)

mauddib~ (126018) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450655)

Seeing myself dancing before my computerscreen, waving my hands and constant tapping on the floor . Maybe even more features can be put in Emacs this way. Ah what the hell, vi forever...

General VR Hardware Question (1)

HexxedPC (126501) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450656)

I noticed quite a few of the posters seemed to have worked on - or at least given some thought about - home built VR hardware. I know I've killed a lot of common household appliances mocking up things and trying to get them to communicate with the various ports on by box. Is there any sort of open project out there for VR hardware? If there isn't, shouldn't there be?


Re:it has to be said .... (1)

oRox (127691) | more than 14 years ago | (#1450658)

"I'm not entirely sure that I want my computer knowing where my fingers are at all times"

heh! I think we just gave a localized inference to the phrase "Big Brother"

Roxanne M. Seibert
Independent Contractor, CEO
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