Microsoft has long-worked on new display and input technology. In 2012, the company filed for a patent related to touch input, and now, a 2016 patent has been published by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office which spells out in detail what Microsoft has been working on. It’s important to note that a lot of Microsoft’s work in the touch input segment was to implement in its smartphones, however, with its smartphone market being almost non-existent these days, it could be that these patents turn out to be nothing.
Titled “Touchless input”, the technology uses depth cameras to create a depth map of hands and fingers. It then uses these images to work out the position, angle, and movement, of the subject. This technology supports a number of input gestures, which include:
Many of these input gestures we’re already used to. But the difference with touch-less input is that these gestures could be picked up by the device without physically touching the screen. The obvious benefit to this kind of technology is that it could reduce the number of fingerprints that are found on touchscreen devices, a problem that has plagued many, and ruins the aesthetics of a premium device.
While the company’s smartphone market has dwindled since the creation of both these patents, it still has a strong Surface product line that incorporates touchscreens, so it could well be that the company continues working on the technology.