It seems that a year and a half ago, Microsoft applied for a patent for what appears to be a sort of hybrid between their own pressure-sensitive keyboard and the lovely but prohibitively expensive Optimus keyboard. The claims include “an adaptive-imaging engine to dynamically change a visual appearance of the key in accordance with rendering information received from the host computing device.” Sounds a lot like a number of products already on the market, but the claims are more specific to a “gesture-recognition engine.”
I can think of a couple applications of this: of course, it’d be useless to change the image on the key you’re pressing, but this system would make for a hell of a shift key. Light tap does one thing, light hold-down does another, press down until it clicks makes it stay in shift mode, and so on. It’s a good idea, really, and could be executed in an original way (in which case the headline is pure link-bait).
It’s still a little funny that they would apply for this patent right after a product came to market that does much the same thing. If Art Lebedev, the Optimus keyboard’s creator, has a strong patent portfolio, this particular application is going to get nixed in a hurry.