Microsoft Files Patent For VR Text Input System

Microsoft suggests a radial input system for text in VR.

There are always obstacles to overcome when trying to create a system for typing text when the user doesn’t have access to a proper keyboard. In virtual reality (VR), this becomes more complex, as users are unable to see the outside world, so a keyboard becomes unusable even if one is available. Microsoft has been awarded a patent that has the potential to overcome this problem.

The patent is for a VR text input system that could be a better way to write long or complex text in VR when using tracked motion controllers or Xbox gamepads. This is done by using a radial design with layered inputs and predictive text.

HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset Professional Edition

QWERTY keyboards are still the most popular keyboard type among western users, and despite being shown to not be the most accurate or intuitive, it has the advantage of familiarity, allowing users to create a lot of text very quickly. Microsoft are hoping to devise a system that offers similar levels of speed and accuracy within VR.

The new patents uses a wheel interface, similar to the existing Surface Dial, and could prove to be an easier way for VR and videogame console users to input text quickly, compared to existing systems of floating keyboards.

The patent notes that the QWERTY layout is designed for a full ten-finger input, making it a poor fit for single-cursor systems currently on offers. The typing wheel is said to be suitable for use in VR as well as mixed reality (MR) and any area where game controllers are the most common method of input.

As with any patent, there is no guarantee that Microsoft will ever create a product that uses the system specified in the patent. The patent was originally filed in March 2018, so it is still possible that Microsoft have been working on the system since the filing.

For future coverage of new developments in VR, keep checking back with VRFocus.

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