One of the disadvantages to smaller keyboards, like those of the Microsoft Surface, is that they aren’t as big as full-sized keyboards meaning that using them can be a little cramped. The upside is that the Surface Touch Covers do come with built-in gesture support which we guess makes up for its small size.

That being said, it seems that Microsoft is exploring the idea of allowing gestures to be used without having to even touch the keyboard itself. This is thanks to a project at Microsoft Research which is looking at using low-resolution matrix infrared proximity sensors that have been placed between the keys of a mechanical keyboard.

Given that the Surface Touch Covers do not feature mechanical keys, we’re not sure how this might translate to future Touch Covers, but presumably Microsoft will find a way if that is their ultimate goal. According to the description, “We propose the use of motion signatures a technique that utilizes pairs of motion history images and a random forest classifier to robustly recognize a large set of motion gestures. Our technique achieves a mean per-frame classification accuracy of 75:6% in leave–one–subject–out and 89:9% in half-test/half-training cross-validation.”

Unfortunately it is unclear as to when Microsoft will actually implement such a device into future keyboards or into tablet devices like the Microsoft Surface, but in the meantime if you’d like to see the project in action, check it out in the video above. What do you guys think? Is this something you’d like to see in the future?

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