Microsoft StepUI: No More Couch-Potato Excuses

At Microsoft Research's TechFest, the company is showing off 155 demonstrations from its five worldwide research labs. Among the highlights: A foot-powered user interface alternative. (Microsoft Watch)

Microsoft doesnt believe hands are the only vehicle for driving computers.

Feet are equally valid for scrolling and cataloging e-mail and photos, among other tasks, according to researchers working in Microsofts main Redmond research lab.

In fact, for those for whom hands are less of an option, as a result of disabilities or injuries, feet might be the optimal solution.

Microsoft Researchs StepUI, or Step User Interface, detailed here in PDF form, is custom-made for these individuals.

And StepUI also could end up appealing to another group: Couch potatoes looking for a way to lose some weight while still surfing the Internet, Microsoft execs acknowledged.

StepUI is just one of 155 Microsoft Research projects that the companys five worldwide research labs will be demonstrating to Microsoft employees attending the companys TechFest event this week in Redmond.

With StepUI, users can use an off-the-shelf dance pad to perform simple e-mail commands, such as scroll, open, close, delete, flag and move messages into folders.

They also can scroll and sort through digital photographs using the still-in-development interface. The pad can be located under a desk or up to 10 feet away from a larger-screen monitor.

"People really like stomping with two feet to delete spam," said Kevin Schofield, general manager of strategy and communications at Microsoft Research. "And it raises your energy level and heartbeat, which is good for sedentary health issues.

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