Beyond digital ink: Where Microsoft wants to take data input tomorrow

Beyond digital ink: Where Microsoft wants to take data input tomorrow

Summary: A Tablet stylus and/or a user's finger aren't the be-all and end-all when it comes to future data-input methods in which Microsoft is investing. There's also InkSeine, LucidTouch and Soap.

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A Tablet stylus and/or a user's finger aren't the be-all and end-all when it comes to future data-input methods in which Microsoft is investing.

There's a new Microsoft "On 10" video that highlights three other Microsoft Research projects focused on alternate means of data input. (Thanks to the "Microsoft At Home and At Work" team for the video link.) The three research projects -- which might find their way into current or future Microsoft products at some point down the line -- are:

InkSeine: An inking application that allows users to search -- on their hard drives, as well as across the Web -- directly from ink, without transcribing queries to a search box somewhere else. There are more than 500 Microsoft employees experimenting internally with InkSeine, according to researcher Ken Hinckley. Hinckley suggested if InkSeine ever were to be productized, it might work well as a feature in Microsoft Journal or the Microsoft InfoPath online-forms application. Beyond digital ink: Where Microsoft wants to take data input tomorrow

LucidTouch: A multitouch prototype with a twist. Instead of using one's finger on top of a touch screen to interact with a mobile device, what would happen if a light source behind a screen provided a "shadow" of one's fingers, which could be used to "point" and touch type? Accuracy rates would vastly improve, especially for applications like texting on a multi-touch flat screen, the Softies say. There's no Microsoft Research page I could find for LucidTouch, but perhaps it is a derivative of Play Anywhere.

Beyond digital ink: Where Microsoft wants to take data input tomorrowSoap: An optical mouse integrated with a mousepad. A user can push and pull on the soap-sized squish-ball to manipulate a cursor. And the device, when sewed up into a pretty package, would be less obtrusive in a living room or a mobile setting, Microsoft is betting.

Any of these sound like something you'd like to try? So far none of them seems to be available to the public, but perhaps that will change soon....

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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9 comments
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  • Good to see MS working in this direction.

    User interaction has long been a major problem with PCs. Sorry, but the vast majority of people are not good typists.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Untill one mistakenly uses the "soap" in the shower

      as God knows what you could doing on the computer as the "mouse" is flying around the screen. :)
      GuidingLight
  • Awesome. Hope it comes soon

    I saw the video, and it was pretty neat. It's like taking OneNote features beyond. Making using a stylus better and other things.

    I really hope this comes out soon. Some day. I would really like that.
    quikboy
  • RE: Beyond digital ink: Where Microsoft wants to take data input tomorrow

    AN APPLE OEM HAS ALREADY INTEGRATED A WACOM TABLET INTO ITS LAPTOPS
    AS A CUSTOM OPTION. IT IS NOT A HIGH DEMAND ITEM, PROBABLY BECAUSE
    PROSPECTIVE BUYERS FIND IT EXPENSIVE, BUT A VALID NEED USUALLY GETS IT
    ATTENTION.
    'DIGITAL INK' IS A CUTE AND ATTRACTIVE TITLE, BUT A BUILT IN ACCESSORY
    EFFECTS FORM FACTOR, COST, AND MS LICENSED SOFTWARE TO ISE IT,
    COMSUMERS ARE STILL MESMERIZED BY 'FEATURE BLOAT', SUCH AS THE 90% OF
    MS OFFICE FEATURES THEY HAVE NO USE FOR.
    I AM CONSIDERING THE CUSTOM WACOM VERSION, SO AN AUXILARY INTERFACE IS
    APPEALING TO ME. FIND A TANGIBLE USE BEYOND TRINKETS/WIDGETS.
    OFFLOADING BLOAT FROM ONE INTERFACE TO ANOTHER IS YET ANOTHER WAY
    TO FEND OFF GOOGLE, APPLE AND OTHERS, PROVIDING THE ENGINEERING,FREE
    SOFTWARE AND MARKETING APPEAL MAKES'DIGITAL INK' ANOTHER SECOND TIER
    LOSER,
    joelkruissink@...
    • When it can do lower case, I might get one too.

      NT
      TheTruthisOutThere@...
  • Re: Well Microsoft needs to do more thinking..

    If Microsoft can create those softies, by which we can enter the date, or surf the web, do other stuff, by just thinking that I want to do it. Then I will say Microsoft had lived upto it's reputation.
    And the microsoft engineers really are the innovation masters of the world.
    abhishek0216@...
  • One huge YAWN for MS and a giant YAWN for mankind

    ROTFLMAO!!! Tell me that was April fools joke with a bad sense of timing. Seriously, if I want a pen and paper experience, I'll go get a pen and paper. And that Lucid Touch... LOL, now that was a horrible idea and an even worse demo...LOL.. A web cam... on a stick... And the soap mouse??? how lame is that. The wireless gyro mouse was done 10 years ago and it was far better. How dirty is that soap mouse going to get after a few months??? Do you have to retie it every time you need to change the battery? How come they didn't demo the "Ergo Orifice Controller Stick" for gamers? LOL.. Makes about as much sense.
    i8thecat
  • good idea about android

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    gavin.chan
  • good idea about android

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    gavin.chan