New interface looks to endanger mouse, keyboard

Researchers at the University of Delaware (UD) have invented a technology that they say will do away with the traditional mouse and keyboard, replacing them instead with a touch pad and finger motions that will allow computer users to control their machines "like magic."

The new interface consists of a touch pad that acts like a video camera, recording the objects touching its surface. An embedded microprocessor then uses an algorithmic process to convert the touches into commands understood by the computer, the researchers said.

The mouse-eliminating technology was originally developed by UD visiting Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Wayne Westerman, who began the project as part of his doctoral thesis. Westerman has been working on developing the technology over the last five years, along with UD Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering John Elias.

The two are now marketing the interface, dubbed iGesture, through a company called FingerWorks.

"Ultimately I think the technology is completely capable of replacing what we use today," Elias said in an interview Thursday. The researchers believe that the system is revolutionary in that it mimics humans' natural tendency to use gestures to communicate and interact.

Already, a number of UD students and faculty are using the technology, according to a FingerWorks spokesman.

The system is multitouch, requiring only light, subtle movements, the researchers said. For example, to open a file, the user rotates her hand as if opening a jar, and to maximize or minimize a screen, the user expands or contracts her hand.

However, Elias said that it takes three to four weeks for users to learn how to use the system and some users can't get used to the technology.

"Sometimes people just don't want to change," Elias said. "I'm sure my grandmother didn't want to switch from a typewriter to a computer."

However, Elias said that he believes that the system could change the way the world does computing, and software makers could eventually start building applications that take advantage of the technology.

According to the researchers, the technology is much more flexible than voice recognition systems, because it is difficult for computers to process speech differences. The iGesture inventors believe that the technology could eventually allow users to gesture passwords only known to them.

FingerWorks is currently marketing both a stand-alone touch pad and touch pads built into nonmechanical keyboards, so that users do not have to move their hands when switching from typing to using the mouse.

The iGesture Pad is priced at US$179 while the iGesture Keyboard is going for $199, according to the company's Web site. The products work on Macintosh, Windows and Linux systems, and require no extra software, FingerWorks said.

Although Elias concedes that the product pricing is high right now, he said with increased sales volume the company hopes to move production offshore and reduce prices.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Scarlet Pruitt

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?