Video A San Francisco-based startup has come up with a gadget it claims can turn any surface into a 3D interface for your PC or mobile device – and it wants $100,000 in funding to get the thing off the drawing board.
Haptix Touch is a camera-based detection system. The point is to replace the mouse with fingers waved around within the range of the Haptix sensor. It's a compelling idea, as Fingerworks demonstrated with its Touch Stream product (on which this article is being typed) that does exactly them same thing – only without the cameras.
In their first day on Kickstarter Haptix has raised $65k of the $100k it needs to turn its working prototypes into production units. The sensor clips to the top of a laptop screen, pointing down, and plots the location of the fingers - like a Leap Motion, only upside down and with a different objective, as the video demonstrates:
Sony's PlayStation 3 keypad could also be stroked and used as a touchpad, but only in the most basic of ways. When it comes to recognising gestures enacted on a keyboard surface Fingerworks led the field, and patented all the obvious ones.
Apple bought that patent portfolio, along with the remnants of Fingerworks, in 2005 - a year or so before the iPhone was launched. Some of the technology was wound into Apple's new product, but most of the Fingerworks patents refer specifically to gestures made on a "keyboard" so have been useless in the patent wars with Samsung et al.
Haptix Touch is intended to sit above a keyboard and can even work in 3D. It could potentially fall foul of Apple's acquired patents, as well as more recent filings from Cupertino.
Anyone who's used a Fingerworks will know the intuitiveness of dropping two fingers into the keyboard to summon a mouse pointer, or three to scroll down a page. With Fingerworks out of production the Haptix Touch is the best opportunity to achieve that. Just get one quickly before the Cupertino lawyers notice them. ®