CS Student Turns iPhone Accelerometer Into Virtual Keyboard

Tired of pecking out small keys on the iPhone’s small display? Well, computer science student Florian Kraeutli at Goldsmiths University has found a way to leverage a flat, solid surface along with the iPhone’s accelerometer to create a virtual full-sized keyboard, called Vibrative, so users can touch type.


Essentially, Kraeutli’s innovation requires a user to place their iPhone flat on a tabletop or any solid surface. Users can begin typing on the surface, and the iPhone’s 3D accelerometer would be able to pick up on the vibrations–both the force and frequency–to guess which letters a user is trying to press.

Vibrative Virtual Keyboard from Florian Kräutli on Vimeo.

Speaking to the UK’s Telegraph, Kraeutli says that his system is about 80 percent accurate and auto-correct will help to try and get the typed word correct.


“The signals I’m collecting are very weak,” said Kraeutli. “At the moment it’s more of a proof of concept but if you made the accelerometer more sensitive you could improve the accuracy quite easily.”


Screen Shot 2012-11-12 at 9.28.30 PMHe says that the system is more accurate on smaller surfaces, which vibrate more with each key press. The system would need to be calibrated for each type of surface so that the vibration patterns can be read accurately, but the software doesn’t need to learn each key on each surface. Users can just calibrate a few keys.

For his experiment, Kraeutli used a jailbroken iPhone and typed on keys printed on a piece of white paper placed on a wooden table.

In the past, various keyboard concepts have emerged, including various foldable wired keyboards, Bluetooth keyboards, laser-projected keyboards, and smaller dockable ones.