This week Microsoft finally won a patent on a foot-based user interface after waiting nearly five years. Called "Foot-based interface for interacting with a computer," the patent describes a user moving his/her feet and stepping on the floor to execute various commands including scrolling down the screen, deleting email and more.
"In addition to causing health problems, the traditional keyboard and mouse interface can be simply inconvenient in certain situations as well," claims the patent. "In one instance, a mother with a baby in her arms is unable to easily perform simple tasks, such as checking email, on a computer. In another instance, interactive advertisement from businesses lack an effective interface that enables easy interaction with shoppers that carry bags in their hands."
The patent calls for four components: the user, an electromagnetic wave sensor, a display and a PC. It specifically states that the device can be tuned to detect electromagnetic waves within the visible spectrum, the radio spectrum, the infrared spectrum, X-ray spectrum, ultraviolet spectrum, and gamma ray spectrum.
Given that Microsoft Kinect already has an infrared camera built-in, the company may already be set to implement its new patent. Back in June, documents leaked out of Redmond, Wash. showed Kinect-like features planned for Windows 8 including facial recognition for login on and off accounts. And thanks to the efforts of AlexP and Hector Martin, we already know that it's possible to use Microsoft Kinect within the Windows environment.
With that said, could motion-detected foot control arrive soon? In a seated position, the camera could be mounted on the floor to detect foot commands while the hands continue to type or perform other functions with the mouse. If anything, the patent would be the ideal tool for racing games for the PC, possibly putting pedal peripheral manufacturers out of business.