Microsoft is experimenting with ways to combine trackpad gestures on traditional PC keyboards. In a research paper published recently, the software maker reveals a prototype that combines an Apple keyboard with an array of infrared proximity sensors that are mounted above the key caps. No external sensors are required, and the end result is something similar to Leap Motion. The prototype keyboard, which looks like a regular thin keyboard, supports gestures like swipe and pinch-to-zoom to navigate documents.
While there are many new and emerging ways to interact with PCs, Microsoft’s system looks like it could be one of the more natural and easy to use, a way to compliment an existing mouse instead of replacing it. Simple gestures like swiping down on keyboard keys navigates a page downwards, and there’s even support for gestures when you hover above the keyboard. The prototype is simply research for now, but it’s not impossible to imagine Microsoft could manufacture a keyboard that’s capable of this gesture support. Microsoft’s Surface Touch Cover already supports a number of keyboard gestures, and the company has hinted at its plans to extend this hardware in the future.