Everybody is talking about the “Touch Bar” on the new Apple MacBook Pro, but you should know that this idea is far from original. Turns out that Microsoft had something similar in the works year ago, as proved by the videos below.
Microsoft showed it off as a prototype in 2010, that involved a special row of shortcuts and items to work with placed at the top of a virtual keyboard. Back then it was called an Adaptive Keyboard and it was a research prototype developed by Microsoft Hardware. It combined display and input capabilities back in a time when the iPad was just starting off.
The touch strip let the user change the character or a variety of other options within the apps he was working with. Then we have the second video below, the one of the “Display Cover” from 2015, that attached to the Surface tablets and provided a small E Ink screen that let you see tiles and shortcuts. It had a resolution of 1280 x 305 pixels and increased the screen estate of the device by 8%.
It also supported stylus annotation, gestures and trackpad interaction. As usual, Apple took a great idea and perfected it and what’s what Steve Jobs did with the mouse from Xerox many decades ago. Are they to blame? That’s just how technology evolves… I guess the presentation and application matters more.