Virtual keyboard hand grips provide input for wearables and other devices
A new kind of ‘keyboard’ targeting wearable and mobile users has been shown by researchers from Malardalen University (MDH) in Sweden. The innovation takes the form of a pair of U-shaped brackets that wrap around from the tops of your hand to the palms. Please take a look at the picture below to see this difficult to describe gadgetry. This new ‘virtual keyboard’ is said to be coming to market ‘soon’ so it is not just going to be confined to a research project which never bears fruit directly.
The MDH keyboard hand brackets can read the position of your fingertips using built-in sensors and AI thus “the surface and the movements of the user and can therefore ascertain which key is touched,” explains the Malardalen University blog. You can use this new input system with many kinds of device such as smartphone, tablet or even your computer. Lars Asplund, Professor Emeritus in Robotics at MDH also informs us that it would work well with something such as Google Glass or Oculus Rift as with these smartwear items you will be able to see the keyboard you are typing upon too. Beyond keyboard input the researchers say that the two units can also replace the functionality of a computer mouse thanks to being able to used as gesture controllers.
Prof Asplund reminds us that it is high time that the present day keyboard was replaced as they work in “almost the same way, as 19th-century typewriters”. The MDH virtual keyboard device innovatively goes well beyond keyboard mimicry and can even help with user ergonomic problem alleviation. Its been subject to a multitude of tweaks, revisions and refinements as the project, known as the Senseboard, first broke cover as long ago as 2001. However until now, Asplund says candidly, it “wasn’t good enough”. Now the device keyboard accuracy is close to 100 percent.
Though you can see a demo prototype in the video above we hear that the project needs “another SEK 10-15 million to develop the hardware design, manufacture a series, and launch the product on the market”. If this funding is forthcoming via public or commercial partners the keyboard should be ready within a year according to the Prof.