Microsoft plans to show off a pressure-sensitive keyboard prototype at the User Interface Software and Technology conference, which will take place in October in British Columbia, Canada.
The company has provided a video that gives an overview of the technology and a few examples of how you might use a pressure-sensitive keyboard.
In the gaming demo, the harder the keys are pressed the faster the character runs. We can imagine similar functionality in Google Maps. The typing possibilities are also intriguing. Microsoft shows how you can change the font size of text on the fly, as you increase typing pressure. The company also demos accelerated backspacing (deleting words at a time, instead of letters, as force increases), and posited that the keyboard might even be able to minimise typos by gauging whether you used sufficient force on a key to suggest intent.
Microsoft is also holding a contest for student developers to coincide with the UIST conference. Contestants will get a sample keyboard and a month to come up with a program. $2,000 (£1,200) prizes will go to the creators of the programs deemed the most useful, the best implemented and the most innovative.
Microsoft hasn't yet announced a specific product that will exploit this technology, but its usefulness seems so obvious that we can't imagine it will stay in the prototype stage for long.