Magnetic Keyboard

7 October, 2009

As part of the UIST 2009 Student Innovation Competition, our team (Hidden Forces) built a demo which allowed users to control multiple cursors by waving magnets above the keyboard. We did this by placing one small magnet underneath each of the keyboard keys with the north side facing up. We then used a larger magnet (north side facing down) as a cursor. The larger magnet would repel nearby magnets, thus pushing them against the pressure-sensitive pads (see image). This allowed our computer to know where the magnet was located above the keyboard. We were able to control multiple cursors with this technique, thus turning the keyboard into a multi-point, in-air interaction device. Our demo won first place in the "most creative division".