Keyboard out of thin air

OEMs will be soon be able to offer their customers the convenience of a full-sized keyboard and mouse created ‘out of thin air’ by projected beams of light.

By integrating a set of tiny components dubbed the ‘The Keyboard Perception Chipset’ into phones or PDAs, OEMs will be soon be able to offer their customers the convenience of a full-sized keyboard and mouse created ‘out of thin air’ by projected beams of light.

Developed by La Jolla, CA-based Canesta, the Keyboard chipset itself comprises just three components – a pattern projector, a keyboard sensor module and a light source.

The pattern projector projects a standard or OEM custom keyboard layout onto a nearby flat surface, while the small, cylindrical light source illuminates the keyboard area with invisible infrared light, which is detected by the sensor module.

The keyboard sensor module serves as the ‘eyes’ of the keyboard, and uses Canesta’s electronic perception technology to develop a 3D moving picture of the nearby area. Additional processing built into the sensor itself translates user finger movements into conventional serial keyboard data, eliminating the need for additional processing in an OEM device. The sensor includes an integral lens that performs all filtering and focusing functions.

The Chipset and an OEM Development Toolkit, consisting of an application test bed with a pattern projector and image sensor, customisation tools, sample applications, device drivers, and management and interface software, are available now.

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