You know what's lame about those sexy all-white Apple-influenced keyboards? They sure do get dirty really easy, especially when you're constantly wolfing down Doritos in front of them. I'm talking to you, Reinhold. Yeah, you can always wipe clean the tops of the keys, but those tiny remains of your munchies in between and underneath are notoriously difficult to get rid of.
It would be much neater if you could just type away on the desktop (that is, the top surface of your physical desk, which is easily cleaned), and that's just what a new technology developed by researchers in Europe aims to let you do. Unlike those laser keyboards we've seen before, the new system uses acoustic sensors — well, microphones, I guess — positioned around the surface to detect where you fingers are. Called Tai-Chi for Tangible Acoustic Interfaces for Computer-Human Interaction (oooh, you researchers are so clever, clever, clever!), the system can turn any flat surface into an input device. One method uses multiple sensors to track objects, while another requires just one, although it requires calibration. Both can track two objects at once.
Cool stuff, to be sure, and it's perfect for artists who want to quickly take their work into the digital domain, since they're already drawing on a flat surface, just like the guy in the photo above. But typing would no doubt feel very weird without the tactile response of a keyboard. Still, it's something worth considering for places where hygiene is important, like hospitals. And my Aunt Rose's place in Calgary. That place is inhumanly clean. Thanks to Falon for the tip!
Via New Scientist