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Wireless Keyboard... Without The Keyboard 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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Wireless Keyboard... Without The Keyboard

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    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?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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. jackel@~spam~jackels-den.net~sucks~
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 22, 1999 @11:23PM (#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?
  • Don't a lot of wireless keyboard user infrared...?

  • 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.
  • I agree, emulating a keyboard with this would be unimaginative and wasteful. Fortunately there is a much better approach--thumbcode [stanford.edu]. 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 [phial.com] right through meetings.

  • 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 [blu.org]. 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 :)

  • 80x25 is a Wyse 150 with status bar, oops.
  • by monk ( 1958 ) on Thursday December 23, 1999 @07:00AM (#1450559) Homepage
    It think this [berkeley.edu] might be what he was talking about.
  • Is a Dilbert strip: Dilbert's dreaming of the day when small screens can be projected into his glasses and glove-keyboards can let him type into the air, making it impossible to distinguish coders from babbling idiots (did we mention voice recognition with tiny, hidden microphones?) who wave their hands about meaninglessly.

    "Are you an engineer too?"
    "No, I'm just an idiot."

    Anybody else remember this one? =)

    David E. Weekly (dew, Think)

  • 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..."
  • Hmm, did your novel have anything about One-Click Shopping in it?
  • 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.
  • asdf;lkjasdf;lkjasf;lkjasdf;lkj
  • The way that I do it is


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

  • Yeah, like I said [slashdot.org]. :)
  • 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...

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

    Imagine being able to use this device and a Bluetooth-enabled PalmOS device [widcomm.com] to enter data. Could be better than the Stowaway [thinkoutside.com]. 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...

  • i don't understand why folks say you can type on a "virtual keyboard". it doesn't say anything about virtual keyboards, but rather about sign-language and hand signals. measuring where the hand is.

    so i suppose you could then model "virtual keyboard" movements on like a silent keyboard which is really just posterboard with bumps. that gives you your tactile cues to where keys are, and gives you something that you can move wherever. you could even cut the keyboard in half and put the halves wherever.

    but saying you can type in the air is a little naive--they're talking about sign-language. incidentally, it's kind of neat that it would be possible to learn sign language and be able to "dictate" that way to your computer. so you're movements are single-keystrokes, but rather entire words and phrases. you can abstract the communication process to your computer one entire level.

    it'd be nice to have more folks who can speak with sign-language anyways. i know i learned bits of sign language in order to communicate across loud rooms and during meetings.

  • 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. :)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...

  • I don't know, I think it would get kind of confusing to code verbally. Sure, if I have the code in front of me, speaking it might be a tad easier to enter once I got used to it, but I just don't think dictating brand new code would be easy for me.

    The other thing is, even in your example ambiguities arise as to what the speaker actually intends. You say assume anything that isn't a reserved 'vocal word' is a variable/function name, but you use what would be a reserved 'vocal word' (Int). Although I'd assume you could check to see if it was a valid location to place int, the voice interpreter could easily interpret

    public class hello world imp implements hello world int f


    public class HelloWorldImp implements HelloWorld int f

    instead of

    public class HelloWorldImp implements HelloWorldIntF

    which is clearly not the desired code.

    To pull an example from my own (ugly, Windows) code:

    CopyMemory( &project.files[project.iFileCount - 1], file, sizeof( FILEENTRY ) );

    I guess, vocally, I could dictate it as

    copy memory paren amp project dot files brac project dot i file count minus one comma file comma sizeof paren fileentry clopar clopar semi

    Or some variation thereof. However, that seems awfully complext to me, and typing it is fairly simple. Simply too much of the punctuation has to be dictated, and I don't see much way around it.

    And again, from wonderful windows code

    ghWnd = CreateWindowEx( 0, CLASS_MAINWINDOW, WINDOW_TITLE, WS_OVERLAPPEDWINDOW, x, y, width, height, 0, 0, ghInstance, 0 );

    And I'm not even going to try to figure out what would be spoken for that one. The trouble is, syntactically, I think a language like C is just too complex for any dictation system to work. It might be easier for some, but I would much rather type my code. When I have to spell things out for my computer, I'd rather use a device designed for just that.

  • It's like those Lee press on nails.
  • If only I could code as fast as I thought...
  • 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.
  • Strange, I go exactly backwards of that...


    The other way seems somehow... wrong.
  • 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.

  • 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.

    Plus the fact that fingernails grow, and you'd have to refit the sensors ever couple of weeks, depending of your fingernail growth rate... And for them not to come off during other activities, they'd have to be glued on pretty hard, and that would make it a real PITA to refit them... so i guess that makes the fingernails pretty badly suited for this kind of stuff.

    A better idea if you're gona have them permanently fitted would be to implant somewhere inside the fingertip.

  • I seriously think that this could replace the Keys part of my Mouse'n'keys config for Quake/Q2. I could replace my keyboard just like I got rid of my mouse pad when I bought that IntelliMouse Explorer.

    Man, that's one Clean Desktop of the Future. I wonder when they'll have a model that'll replace your Mouse or TrackPad.

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

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

    I watch the TV (Got to love the Simpsons!), and imagine the monitor and the screen!

  • But is that even possible? I'm taking it with a grain of salt unless someone can give me a link as proof.
    No link, but I do recall seeing a brief piece on this in Popular Science a few months ago. Amazing stuff.
  • Actually, there is one completely identical to this. The joke that has been made many times, is that not everybody wants their computers to know where there hands are at all times, it ends with the chips talking to the salesman saying, "I was meaning to talk to you about last night..."
  • If you could track the motions of a virtual keyboard...then why wouldn't you just be able to "remove" your hand from the keyboard and use a mouse. Use your fingers like you would use a trackball, and a simple "grip" or tap of the fingers or hand will result in a click or double click, it might require some training but, it will vastly increase desktop space!
  • 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.
  • Thanks for spreading my keyboard zen [perl.com] 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I've gotta agree w/you on this one... 'cept that I tend to drum w/both hands at once, so mine's more like this...



  • by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 ) <xptical@@@gmail...com> on Thursday December 23, 1999 @12:26AM (#1450597)
    Can I put all 10 chips on one finger for my H&P typing?
  • I was thinking about this article and made a few conclusions.

    The sensors would have to aware of each other.
    The method of typing would have to be the standard way. With your fingers pressed on A S D F J K L ;
    And the keys would be registered accordingly.
    Like a joystick, it would most likely have to be calibrated for X:0 Y:0 position.

    One problem, what if you developed your own style of typing?
  • Just think of the applications besides a virtual keyboard.
    Gives new meaning to the term 'air guitar'.
  • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Thursday December 23, 1999 @12:10AM (#1450600) Homepage Journal
    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!

  • Virtual Technologies CyberGlove® [virtex.com]

    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 [virtex.com] 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...

  • I don't know where to find it online, but the January 2000 issue of Wired features these little bad boys on the first page of the Fetish section. The guy who submitted the article basically paraphrased Wired's blurb on them and included a couple of URL's. It also lists them as available in 2005 for around $70 a set...

  • 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??
  • 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 [gnu.org] (C-0 M-x all-hail-emacs), which is well known for some of the secondary meanings of its acronym [ucar.edu] 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?
  • Redesign C? Again??

    All we'd need is a simple pre-processor that understood that

    'public class HelloWorldImp implements HelloWorldIntf {
    public void greet() {
    System.out.println("Hello World");
    } }

    is spoken

    public class hello world imp implements hello world int f brac public void greet dubparen brac system out println par quo cap hello cap world quo clopar semi clobrac clobrac'

    Assume anything that isn't a reserved 'vocal word' is a concatenated variable/function name, abbreviate the punctuation to monosyllable, and double check all vars/functs against a known list. Heck, strip out the punctuation and just guess at it.

    Say it, and try typing it.. For me, saying it is much faster, and I'm not shoddy typist.
  • Presumably a parser cold be constructed to automatically bracket, quote and parenthesize most of the code. Acceptable C, C++, or Java code is so very narrowly defined that a set of rules could be devised. An aquaintance of mine writes adaptive rule systems for a living; I'll hit him up for an opinion on it, as he is far more knowledgable on the capabilities and limititations of such a postulate than I.

    The downside I see is a learning curve. Shortly after posting, I hit up my old copy of Dragon Dictate for some real test results. I only expected human intelligible results, and read all punctuation fully. I started by reading off some of my own Java source, which went much faster than I could type.( I type 40-50 wpm ) Reading a coworker's C++ stuff took quite a bit of thought, but also was faster than I type.

    The snafu came when I tried to write original code. I made a mockery of myself, half stammering 'code' that would normally just spring from my fingertips. I couldn't do it. I don't see trying to edit code verbally as easy either.

    I suppose the only real test short of writing a parser would be to speak to a programmer incapable of typing due to RSI, a spinal injury, etc. Only someone who has actually done it can tell us how bad a curve it is, and if it is even worth the effort when we still have our IBM Model M's..
  • by dvduijn ( 73663 ) on Thursday December 23, 1999 @02:38AM (#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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • ha ha, it will be the ;-) of the future --- imagine what this will do for IRC or alt.sex.*...

    6of9: te;iughaoiugyhag'[qogvmpoieagjyesyes
    borger: six, I think you should turn the sensitivity on your keyboard down a little when you do that

  • 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...
  • 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! ;)


  • As some people have speculated, this is from the recent January edition of WIRED [wired.com]. Some people thought that this was fictious invention, but this, along with the other items in this section of WIRED are to be released in the future. The article states that this device will be avaliable in 2005. The keyboard reciever will be avaliable for $50, and the fignernail set (of 10, obviously) will be sold for $20.

    If you ask me though, this looks like one of those things back in the 50's... "we'll be living on the moon by the year 2000...."
  • 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??

  • The same chording techniques are used for underwater diving input devices. Radio waves get grounded out under salt water so they tend to use a wired connection. There was a company in Australia that made some really neat portable PC devices a while back that used a chord style input. I forget the name.
  • by jsm2 ( 89962 ) on Wednesday December 22, 1999 @11:11PM (#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.

  • What output do you get while repeatedly giving your co-workers the finger?
  • I was gonna say the same thing but then I noticed that geekfuzz had already said it. I think this is a joke or something. There is no link to any actual article about these anywhere. The only place I have heard about them other than here was in the fetish section of wired as stated above. However, they were not going to be avalible for like 6 or seven years. And a lot of the stuff in the fetish section seemed like things that might never come out at all. I think our news-posting friends at /. may have fallen for one here.
  • 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?
  • Or some varient? I mean, how hard would it be to get a computer to read ASL (American Sign Language)? If you used an already established sign language you'd have a better learning curve and a wider acceptance. In fact, I could imagine the drivers for this thing to be built to accept a variety of sign languages.
  • This link [bbc.co.uk] 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.
  • 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?

  • 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.
  • but I would put on thin, cut-out gloves (or rubber fingertips) before sticking the chips to my "fingernails"

    Why not just have them implanted in your fingertips....Im sure you could arange for some kind in induction recharging for their internal power source, or better yet tap a blood vessal and use the flow of blood to power a microturbine which intrun would power the devices...

    - Resistance is futile...
  • Although I can't provide any references for this, I did see a Discovery program describing experimental military equipment dealing with brainwaves. What they were showing was very rudimentary, only being able to track general directional movements (left, right, up, down), but the user wore a headband that monitored brainwaves and was able to stear an object through space. I think for many of us, the further development of keyboards is getting a bit redundant. At the moment, I can type faster than I can speak. I would need to speak very quickly to keep up with my keyrate, and because I'm a touch typist, I can do this an just about any keyboard. I'm looking for a device in the not to soon future that we don't need to speak or type, but rather think. Borgification.
  • Or you could carry a sheet of paper with the keys drawn on it

    So then the point of a keyboardless keyboard would be....
  • Well, maybe easier than normal keyboard, but probably not easier than wireless keyboards.. as those also use radio just like this.
  • Of course then what I should really do is get that inventor guy from the other story to build a wireless keyboard out of his paper computer technology.
  • 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.
  • 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 ;)

  • 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.
  • I am a touch-typist, but I agree with your basic premise: we need feedback to use a keyboard.

    • Here's what I want:
    • A lightweight, roughly rectangular "board" which hangs on an adjustable cord around my neck (smaller than 3"x4"x 1/2").
    • It's two-sided, but can be used one-handed if a small "button" on the bottom of the slab is touched (in which case it becomes a chording keyboard).
    • The inner and upper sides of the slab are one-button thick, for special keys (normally accessed by thumb).
    • Normal key placement is optimized for two-handed operation, with the most common (in English) 2-letter combinations coded for alternate hand/strongest finger usage.
    • The "home key" positions are marked with dots, for feedback.
    • To further reduce RSI & carpel tunnel syndrome, it remains vertical for common use (as part of a wearable PC), but can be unfolded and placed on a desktop for positional variety.
    Btw, if someone offers those chips, I want them -- but I would put on thin, cut-out gloves (or rubber fingertips) before sticking the chips to my "fingernails" -- unless they're supposed to be discarded, like contact lenses. Even then, ecologically speaking, I'd prefer to use them as long as possible.
  • Ah, screw that, I just look at the keys and visualize what's on the screen.

  • "I'll cast my magic spell and rain you with a blizzard of lawyers"

    The problem is in banishing them back to the 99th plane before they turn on you.
  • Me!
    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!

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

  • 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.

  • OK I took a small visit to google and found a rather good link collection [cybernet.com] 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
  • Aehem me or the CmdrTaco?
    Anyway, I don't think so, thats what the article is about. This is a glove and it seems to be constructed out of standard components:" An Analog Devices 2 axis ADXL 202 accelerometer". They even give the name of the manufacturer. But it _could_ be done this way. In that case the MEMS would be really small versions of the above mentioned device that connect to controller via radio instead of wires. The controller could then be placed somwhere near the computer instead of beeing strapped to the wrist.
    When I read the article I thought they would use some kind of positionig system to determine the _absolute_ position of the Fingertips, not acceleration.
    Ciao, Peter
  • by dadith ( 119849 ) on Thursday December 23, 1999 @12:30AM (#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
  • 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!

  • I should know...hehe, I own all of the books :)
    Had something to do with his PHB sending him
    to Elbonia without any preparation, warning,
    equipment. I remember a line like this:
    "....and if you had a keyboard, you would type
    Ctrl-Alt-A".." .
    Then the Elbonians said they didn't have vowels
    in their alphabet. Thats paraphrased, but it's
    the FIRST thing I thought of when I read the
    /. title of this product. Tried to find a link on dilbert.com but couldn't find it. Funny!
  • That's a great idea -- it seems more practical than the invisible-keyboard scheme. Does anyone know what kind of words-per-minute you can get with sign language?

    They taught sign language at my high school. Could this be an alternative to voice recognition?

  • 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.
  • People keep saying that they've already invented this, which I don't doubt. I had a pretty neat idea along these lines a while ago, too. Plus, there was the Dilbert strip (which people have mentioned), and there was another almost identical gadget in a recent Flash comic. The only difference here is that someone actually built it this time. We should realise that if we see an fingernail scrubber that powered by egg shells, odds are that the guy down the street had a dream about it once. I don't mean to offend anyone who claims that this was their idea, I'm just saying that it's kind of pointless to mention.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky