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Google Patents Idea to Turn Your Hand Into a Touchscreen

 A patent application suggests that the company is playing with the idea of integrating a projector into the device with the capability of projecting a keyboard on any surface in front of it, such as a user's hand. Conceivably, you could use one hand as touch screen surface and the other to type. Sensors would be employed to measure the distance of the surface and translate hand movements into keystrokes.

The idea of projection keyboards has been around from some time. IBM holds the patent for the original keyboard, which was granted in 1992. However, the most convincing implementation may be Canesta's optical keyboard that was first presented in 2002, but never made it into the mass market. Canesta was able to license its technology and was briefly rumored to be acquired by Microsoft and help Microsoft to provide virtual keyboard technology for Kinect. However, Canesta is still operating on its own and has abandoned this market segment.

A Mozilla Labs project from 2011 also played with the benefit of a touchscreen by conceptualizing a smartphone with two projectors - one for projecting the content of the small display on a large screen and one to project a keyboard on a surface.

What makes such a keyboard very interesting is the fact that the sensors can react quickly and typing via a laser-assisted keyboard can work without the input delays we know from touchscreens.

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  • diddo
    Welcome in 1992... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Projection_keyboard
    Reply
  • chewycq
    Time ago I saw a video of Microsoft about exactly that, it was funtional and all. This is the video in Youtube /watch?v=MUnvdblJhP8 and its from 2010
    Reply
  • bnot
    Helen Keller got both of them beat. Besides, walking around town throwing gang signs doesn't sound too healthy.
    Reply
  • kingius
    This really does show that all the best ideas have already been done. With all those PHD's I'd have expected Google to come up with a good idea and not this rubbish.
    Reply
  • fuzzion
    kingiusThis really does show that all the best ideas have already been done. With all those PHD's I'd have expected Google to come up with a good idea and not this rubbish.
    You do realise you can buy a PHD
    Reply
  • Non-Euclidean
    I would think the easiest would be a laser system that displays the keyboard on a flat surface in front of you, then some sensors that see what keys you are hitting, at the intersection of your fingertip and the flat surface.
    Reply
  • If we're talking about project glass, then you don't need to bother projecting the keyboard - just superimpose it over the view the user sees.

    You could also detect 'key' presses without having to rely on visually determining when the user's finger makes contact with their hand, assuming the user is willing to wear some electronic sensor, like on a wristband or so - remember the tough-sensitive plant a few months back? Same deal.
    Reply
  • ivanto
    This was in a few sci fi movies. What is patentable in this?
    -Ivan TO
    Reply
  • WyomingKnott
    Now this one really lends itself to pr0n-based games. Move over, Leisure Suit Larry!
    Reply
  • | Canesta was ... briefly rumored to be acquired by Microsoft and help
    | Microsoft to provide virtual keyboard technology for Kinect. However,
    | Canesta is still operating on its own and has abandoned this market segment.

    No, Canesta was indeed acquired by Microsoft, and MS's interest in Canesta had very little to do with the projected keyboard. Canesta had developed depth sensor technology similar to that of PrimeSense, which powers the Kinect.
    Reply