If you thought Microsoft’s RearType prototype was somewhat sub-par it has now presented a product on the other end of the scale; the Adaptive Keyboard concept. The keyboard merges keys and a giant monitor. It will be used in a student competiton and aroused our interest.
Microsoft Adaptive Keyboard is basically a large monitor with support for multi-touch technology. On top of the monitor is a keyboard with a real physical keyboard feel to it, but at the same time shows pictures beneath/through the keys.
The keyboard also has a large multi-touch panel at the top of the keyboard for switching between documents, manipulating pictures and other clever functions. Microsoft is open with that this is not the final product, far from it, and future uses for Adaptive Keyboard are still in the open. Microsof hopes that the UIST Studen Innovation Contest will give them new ideas for how the technology can be used.
What’s an Adaptive Keyboard? It is a research prototype developed by Microsoft Hardware to explore how combining display and input capabilities in a keyboard can allow users to be more productive. The keyboard incorporates a large, touch-sensitive display strip at the top. In addition, the display continues underneath the keys, allowing the legends to be modified in real time. This lets you do things like change the character set to a different language or display command icons.
Microsoft Adaptive Keyboard is just a concept today, but would the participants of UIST find some cool uses it is very much possible the keyboard will find its way into stores. First prize is 2,000 USD and second prize 500 USD. We eagerly await the possible uses the students may come up with for the Adaptive Keyboard.