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July 4, 2007

Microsoft Research: Shift

Filed under Computers, Gadgets, Software

This is cool. Shift lets you use your finger on a touch screen with pinpoint accuracy. Using Shift, selecting an individual pixel is easy.

Comments (6)

Russ Urquhart:

Hey Dave,

This looks pretty cool. The copyright at the end says 2006, but is this out and available now? Are people using this on their devices?

This looks a lot like some of methods for selecting areas on the iPhone.



The paper was published May 2007. It is not shipping in any products yet, but I'd expect it to be integrated in Vista (for Tablet PC's) and Windows Mobile (for SmartPhones/PDA's).

Russ Urquhart:

I think the timing for this is interesting.
Prior to the announcement and subsequent release of the iPhone, most input, it seems, for pdas/cell phones was stylus and/or keyboard&cursor, with touch input being somewhat eschewed.
Don't want to start a MS vs Apple thing, but the timing of MS' presentation of this seems interesting..



I think that is a stretch, Russ.

The deadline for submission of a paper for SIGCHI 2007 (where this paper was presented) was September 2006. So the reseach on the paper was done well before that.

The iPhone was announced to the world January 2007.

If you look in the references in the Microsoft Shift paper, you will see they cite a paper from 1988 called "Improving the Accuracy of Touch Screens."

Microsoft Research is actually quite impressive. It is too bad their achievments are lost on the uninformed that say they don't know how to innovate.

A quick check of Google Scholar shows that Microsoft has about 10 times more research papers than Apple does.

Russ Urquhart:

Hi Dave,

Good sleuthing on the dates, etc. While Apple announced the iPhone in January 2007, they applied for the patents for the touch screen interface in Feburary 2006 (http://hrmpf.com/wordpress/54/touch-sensitive-ipod/), but that's really not what is interesting to me.

I mean, doesn't it seem like that touch interfaces, regardless of who is doing it, is coming into vogue of late?

Also, why hasn't MS put Shift into the current release of their Device os? (I agree that MS has their share of innovative tech, but does it reach their products?


The iPhone has brought a lot of attention to touch screen interfaces.

I bet after the novelty wears off, people will want an iPhone with a real keyboard...and I bet Apple with oblige them...probably along with some fruity color versions as well.

As for why Shift isn't shipping yet...

Two thoughts...

1. Microsoft is in the middle of rolling out a new smartphone OS (Windows Mobile 6), so I'd imagine any new system wide update (like Shift) will be in the next full release.

2. They first need to build a developer kit so that people outside of Microsoft can update their applications to use Shift.

>> but does it reach their products?

Here is a partial list of technology from Microsoft Research that is in shipping products.

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