About a month ago, Microsoft gave out 40 pressure sensitive keyboards to international teams who were each charged with the responsibility of making something cool and useful out of them. The keyboards were to be used as part of a competition to create the most innovative use for the said keyboards.
The results are now in and some of the teams have come up with some fantastic results. In first place for the “Most Useful” category was the team (Jeff Allen and John Howard) who created Safelock. Safelock uses the pressure sensitive keyboard to track not only what your password is, but how you type your password. The system biometrically authenticates a user based on an eight character password but also tracks four attributes about each of the keystroke which includes, flight time, hold time, maximized pressure and a curve fit to measure pressure over time. By working this way your password gets another secure level meaning that if someone knows what your password is they are very unlikely to know exactly how you type it. Check out the video below.
Next up was the Best Implementation category and in 1st place here was the team who created HEELBLAZERS. This system allows you to type using your feet or other imprecise methods and works out what key you were aiming for by measuring the pressures on surrounding keys and by using this data, works out what you meant to type. It sounds like a great idea for mobile phones with small keyboards vs fat fingers! (see second video down).
In first place for “Most Creative” was Hidden Forces. This system uses magnets under each key of the keyboard, then a corresponding magnet is waved over the keyboard allowing keys to be activated through the force so to speak. The system is also multitouch (or multitouchless we should say) and allows a number of magnets to be used to move a cursor around the screen. See 3rd video below.
Most Useful – SafeLock
Best Implementation – Heelblazers
Most Creative – Hidden Forces
Full competition results can be found over at the UIST site ACM. It is well worth you looking over the 2nd place videos as there are some really interesting ideas created by the competition entrants.