In this era, electronic devices are often considered "blind" to their environment. That's why the new offering from San Jose, California-based Canesta, Inc. stands out. It promises to give ordinary electronic devices the ability to perceive nearby objects and/or individuals in real time—and react to them as well. Dubbed the Keyboard Perception Chipset, this product is the first commercialized implementation of the company's Electronic Perception Technology. As the user types on the image of a keyboard, this technology effectively tracks his or her finger movements in three dimensions.
Canesta's chip set can be implemented in any number of mobile products, ranging from smart phones, PDAs, and tablet PCs to standard cell phones. Once integrated, OEMs have a full-sized keyboard and mouse that is projected via beams of light (see figure). The keyboard can be projected onto any flat surface in front of the mobile device. No other accessories are required. It therefore eliminates the need to equip mobile devices with a physical keyboard or awkward input device, such as a stylus or thumb keypad.
Canesta's Keyboard Perception Chip-set consists of an invisible light source, a pattern projector, and a sensor chip. It can be integrated or mounted directly into the case or face of a small mobile device. When in use, the chip set consumes minimal power. The low-cost semiconductor manufacturing techniques used for the chip set couple nicely with its small form factor. These characteristics give OEMs the freedom to add this capability with little or no size penalty and at a reasonable cost. Consequently, users are able to conduct PC-like work on a mobile device. They can experience the benefits of a full-sized keyboard without having to suffer the weight and size penalties associated with such hardware. All they have to do is place the mobile device conveniently in front of them and begin typing on the projected keyboard.
Each component of the chip set is integral to its overall function. An example is the projector, which is known as the Keyboard Pattern Projector 100 (Model# PP-CK100). Through an internal laser, it projects a standard or OEM custom keyboard layout onto a nearby flat surface. The keyboard may be the familiar QWERTY English keyboard offered as a standard option by Canesta or any non-English or non-Roman character set. Other unique keypads are also available. At about 9 mm2, the eye-safe projector meets U.S. ANSI and IEC Class 1 Laser safety standards.
The chip set's Sensor Module 100 (Model# SM-CK100) is roughly the size of a pea. It resolves a user's finger movements as he or she types on the projected-keyboard image. It translates those movements into "keystrokes" on specific projected keys. It then processes the movements into a stream of serial keystroke data similar to that output by a physical keyboard. All of this is done in real time.
The light source (Model# LS-CK100) invisibly illuminates the user's fingers as he or she types on the projected surface. It doesn't matter if that surface is a desk, tray table, or briefcase. The light source's small, cylindrical size—roughly 6.5 mm or 0.25 in. in diameter—illuminates the keyboard area with infrared light. The sensor module detects that light.
Samples of the Keyboard Perception Chipset for the Integrated Canesta Key-board are now available. A Develop-ment Toolkit also is available. It includes an application test bed with a pattern projector and image sensor, customization tools, sample applications, device drivers, and management and interface software.
2833 Junction Ave., Suite 200, San Jose, CA 95134; (408) 435-1400, www.canesta.com.