Microsoft working on TrackPoint-like tech for Surface devices

By: Vamien McKalin
2 minute read

Have you ever used a Lenovo laptop computer? If the answer is yet, then chances are you must have come across a red button at the center of the keyboard. This is called TrackPoint, and it is used for scrolling through webpages or documents.

Microsoft appears to be working on a similar technology for its Surface devices. Unlike the Lenovo-made TrackPoint key, what the software giant is working on is expected to have sensors built-in capable of detecting depressed portions of the key and other tactile interaction.

In its patent, Microsoft says this piece of hardware is gel-based and may include the possibility of fingerprints authentication as well.

“A low-profile, small-footprint gel-based pointing device is described herein. In various embodiments, the gel-based pointing device described herein includes a gel-based body, a tactile surface affixed to a first side of the gel-based body, and a base surface affixed to a second side of the gel-based body that is opposite the first side,” according to the filed patent.

The patent information also went on to add that the gel-based key can detect resistance, capacity, pressure, lateral position, and/or vertical position.

This is a great idea from Microsoft as one of the reasons why we enjoy using Lenovo computers is because of TrackPoint. Once you’re there, it is very difficult to turn back. If Microsoft indeed goes ahead with plans to bring this technology to Surface devices in the future, we might have little reason to make the switch.

Should Microsoft travel down this road, it is likely we won’t see a Surface device with a Lenovo-like TrackPoint until sometime in 2017 or beyond. As simple as it might seem, these things take time to be implemented into consumer hardware.

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