Microsoft Research is working on a finger interface for touch screens dubbed Shift. Apple has already commercialized the finger interface that uses even more than one on the upcoming Apple iPhone.
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A paper by Microsoft Research discussing Shift won even a Best Paper Award at CHI 2007 (Computer Human Interface Conference). Titled “Shift: A Technique for Operating Pen-Based Interfaces Using Touch”.
The paper was written by Mr. Baudisch, a research scientist in human-computer interaction (HCI) in the Adaptive Systems and Interaction Research Group at Microsoft Research, in collaboration with University of Toronto researcher Daniel Vogel during Vogel’s internship at Microsoft Research. Maybe this is just a case of scientists living in their own world ignoring what technologies are about to become mainstream. Of course you also could just use the overused Microsoft is just copying and not inventing.
Microsoft describes their Shift technology as follows: "Shift Technology makes it possible to use a pointer on a PDA that can be guided by finger motion -- once the pointer is in position, the user simply lifts his thumb or finger to select the target."
Apple's Multi-touch finger interface on the iPhone supports for instance zooming into photos with two fingers. They did not just replace the stylus, but introduced things you cannot do with a stylus.
If you have not seen Apple's multi-touch finger interface in action see this CBS News video.
The iPhone will be available in June on Cingular.