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Microsoft engineers have developed a new type of augmented mechanical keyboard, sensing rich and expressive motion gestures performed both on and directly above the device. A low-resolution matrix of infrared (IR) proximity sensors is interspersed with the keys of a regular mechanical keyboard. This results in coarse, but high frame-rate motion data.

Microsoft’s motion-sensing keyboard features infrared sensors interspersed with the keys. (Source: Microsoft)

A machine learning algorithm, traditionally used for static classification only, supports dynamic, temporal gestures. The device uses motion signatures, a technique that utilizes pairs of motion history images, and a random forest classifier to recognize motion gestures.

A large set of gestures can be performed with the keyboard, including typing, hovering, and swiping.

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