Feeds

MS boffins develop foot-powered interface

Nothing to do with Ballmer putting the boot in

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Microsoft boffins are working on a foot powered user interface as an alternative or adjunct to computer mice.

The interface, dubbed StepUI (Step User Interface), works with off-the-shelf dance pads and allows users to navigate through email or navigate through photo collections by stepping on particular areas of the mat. Users would be able to scroll through, open, close, delete and move messages using the interface, which is still in the early stages of development. The idea was one of 155 research projects demoed during a TechFest event in Microsoft's Redmond HQ this week.

StepUI would help people who have limited use of their hands through illness or disability (such as the artist Christy Brown, perhaps). But Microsoft reckons the idea could have wider appeal.

"People really like stomping with two feet to delete spam," said Kevin Schofield, general manager of strategy and communications at Microsoft Research told Microsoft Watch. "There are some applications and interfaces you want [to drive] just with your feet. Some you want to drive just with hands. And some with multimodal – both. It's all about choices... StepUI raises your energy level and heart beat, which is good for sedentary health issues," he added.

Hmmm, we're not sure how many calories someone would burn simply tapping their feet. A brisk walk might be a better alternative. But we digress.

As an alternative to the dance pad users could attach a Bluetooth device on an ankle bracelet or shoe and still be able to drive their computer with their feet. The ankle bracelet idea would likely go down well with Essex girls, since it fits with their well known habit of wearing white stilettos and dancing around handbags.

The idea is all very well for those who are proficient in ballroom dancing. But what of the more rhythmically challenged? A Blue Screen of Death might be the least of their troubles if they get into a tangle deleting spam.

For those who like to listen to music while tapping their feet the question arises about what tunes to listen to when using StepUI. Window Shopper by 50 Cent might find favour at Redmond. Step On from Madchester band The Happy Mondays comes to mind as an alternative. But perhaps Queen's I want to break free might be closer to the mark.

If our survey is correct and the IT world is apparently fixated with unpleasant Canadian pomp rock in the shape of Rush and Heart then the consequences are almost too dire to contemplate. Users listening to Rush while using StepUI might be expected to delete ecommerce receipts and messages from long lost friends while keeping penis pill offers, 419 proposals and other assorted tat. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.