Microsoft Testing Futuristic Inputs

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It turns out that Microsoft isn’t just working on multi-touch mice in an effort to explore next-generation input options, it’s been revealed that the company is also working on input methods that are a little more tactile.

The new interface doesn’t respond to clicks in the same way as a mouse might, but instead allows users to sink their fingers into a fluid-filled bladder, taking input from the various massaging actions that the human hand can apply to the whole device. According to a report from Technology Review,

“At the base of the new device is a ‘sensor tile’ produces magnetic fields above its surface. By detecting disturbances to those fields, the system can track the movement of a metal object across its surface, or the manipulation of a bladder filled with iron filings or a magnetic fluid.”

It’s certainly an interesting concept, but it only gets more interesting when you consider the information going in the opposite direction, with the device being capable of providing “haptic force-feedback” to the user.

While we don’t imagine it’ll be replacing the mouse anything soon, it’s certainly an interesting concept, turning multi-touch from a two-or-three point (or eleven points, if you’re using the newer MacBook Pro) control setup into one where the control method is purely analogue, rather than digital. For now, we’ll be curious to see just what practical applications Microsoft Research can come up with for it, but with something as broad as an entirely new input model it seems very likely that we’ll see more about this in the not-too-distant future.

If you’d like to read more about Microsoft Research’s new input setup, you’d do well to check out the Technology Review article on it, where they were also lucky enough to get a chance to talk to som of the guys working on the project.

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