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Microsoft shows off pressure-sensitive keyboard

Microsoft demonstrates a prototype of its pressure-sensitive keyboard technology

Microsoft sent word this morning of a pressure-sensitive keyboard prototype it plans to show off at the User Interface Software and Technology conference taking place this October up in British Columbia, Canada.

The Microsoft-provided video above provides an overview of both the technology and a few examples of how you might use a pressure-sensitive keyboard. The gaming demo, wherein the harder you press, the faster your character runs, is a fairly obvious implementation. We can imagine similar functionality in Google Maps.

The typing possibilities are also intriguing. Microsoft demonstrates changing font size of text on-the-fly as you increase typing pressure. It also shows off accelerated backspacing (deleting words at a time, instead of letters, as force increases), and posits that it might even be able to minimize typos by gauging whether you used sufficient force on a key to suggest intent.

We can imagine plenty of other uses for a pressure-sensitive keyboard. Cycling through different brush sizes in an image-editing program, rhythm and music games, and others come to mind (cat trespassing detection?). Microsoft is also holding a contest for student developers to coincide with the UIST conference. Contestants get a sample keyboard and a month to come up with an entry. $2,000 prizes go to programs deemed the most useful, the best implementation, and the most innovative.

As for a product with pressure-sensitive tech behind it, Microsoft has nothing to announce right now, but the usefulness of pressure sensitivity seems so obvious, we can't imagine it will stay in the prototype stage for long.