Another Microsoft patent details virtual keyboard methods for Xbox and touch

A few weeks ago, we detailed a Microsoft patent which seemed to showcase new radial software keyboard styles to circumvent the terrible on-screen keyboards currently available on consoles. The new radial software keyboard would allow you to select characters using joysticks, using auto-prediction methods to help you write. This latest patent goes a bit further.

Dubbed "Dual Input Multilayer Keyboard," the patent details how new layers of keys and symbols would surface, based on directional movements on either a joystick, and now, via a touch gesture. This sort of input method would (if it works) not only help solve the cumbersome input methods on console, but perhaps also on tablets and phones, particularly when holding a mobile device in landscape mode.

I'd say it's clear that Microsoft is intent on improving the typing experience not only on its Xbox consoles, but also for its xCloud streaming platform. When playing games in a landscape configuration, having a software keyboard take up half of the screen is simply awful. If this dual-thumb method works, it could enhance the overall experience immeasurably, and thus, help it attain mainstream proliferation. It could also help improve the typing experience on devices like the Surface Go, Pro, Book, and the mythical Surface Andromeda while attempting to type on-screen in a landscape configuration.

The technology can be implemented as a virtual keyboard. Selecting a single output for the keyboard requires a user to provide two inputs. Each input is provided with reference to a different layer. Providing the first input to the first layer activates a second layer specific to the key selected with the first input. Each key in the first layer can be associated with a unique second layer. The output (e.g., a character) is determined from the second layer by providing a second input. The combination of the first and second input selects the ultimate output.

As always, patents don't necessarily mean we'll ever get our hands on these concepts, but they're intriguing nontheless. Let's hope we see them materialize for real in the near future.

Thanks to Steven for the tip!

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • T9 4 Life. No seriously, I've never used a faster input method. I wish SwiftKey made a T9 keyboard, it would be awesome.
  • Have you ever heard of the qwerty keyboard? And yes, on a Phone.
  • No, never. Tell me more.
  • They need to improve the word prediction on the current on-screen keyboard as well. It is one of the worst I've ever used--far worse than what they already have on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile--and, the worst part is that it doesn't seem to learn at all. I can type the same obscure word over and over but it never picks up on it and always forces me to type out the entire thing.
  • I thought that only happened to me! Surface pro 4 and Lumia 950 xl are great but typing on Xbox 1 x is tedious to say the least 😆
  • Maybe Xbox division should just borrow the dict database from SwiftKey team.
  • Wonder if this is something that they've been working on for a while, because that looks like a 360 controller in the sketch.
  • I'd have to use it in practice, but this looks terrible.
  • It might actually work really, well as you said got to use it in practise..