If you want to add Kinect-style gesture controls to your PC, but don’t want to clutter up your desktop with the actual Kinect for PC sensor, Microsoft may soon have a solution for you. It’s a new keyboard that can track hand gestures that you perform in the air above its keys.


Microsoft’s keyboard functions a bit like what you may have seen on HP’s laptops with integrated Leap Motion sensors. The secret is an array of infrared sensors soldered on to the PCB, lining the space between the keyboard’s rows of letters. Despite being fairly low-fi sensors, they’re still able to track with a good level of precision (just like the original Kinect). The keyboard can recognize a wide range of gestures, from full-hand swiping to pinch-to-zoom and even hovering and tapping with a single finger.

The goal is to develop a keyboard that can bring touchscreen style controls to any Windows desktop. From that description, it sounds like this keyboard would be ideal for use with Windows 8.1 — since it, too, tries to merge old-school computing controls with more modern touch-based interaction.

It could actually provide a better experience than a desktop touchscreen monitor does. Depending on how large your display is and how far you sit back from it, it’s not always comfortable to reach across to tap or swipe it. The keyboard would obviously be parked right under your hands — and it’s hard to come up with a better location to track hand gestures than that.

Does Microsoft plan to mass-produce this “Kinect Keyboard?” Only they know for sure. It sure seems like it would make a nice addition to their line of desktop peripherals, though, and it shouldn’t be that expensive to produce.

Published On: April 29th, 2014 / Categories: MICROSOFT / Tags: , , , , , , , /