REMEMBER working on those pesky Excel sheets, and having to constantly move your hands between the keyboard and mouse (or trackpad)? How about the times you wanted to play a first-person shooter game but couldn't, because you were missing a mouse?
Ractiv, a Singapore-based startup, has developed Touch+, a bar about the length of a credit card that turns any surface into a multi-touch one. With this gadget, one can control a computer by tapping to select, pinching to zoom or swiping to scroll - all on that surface, which can be a table, screen or even a keyboard.
Connecting Touch+ to a computer and placing it flat or clipping it to something will create mouse-like functions on any flat surface.
Ractiv's co-founder and chief executive Darren Lim, 21, told The Business Times: "Now, imagine working on an Excel or Numbers sheet with Touch+ enabled. You can comfortably rest your hands on the keyboard - which has effectively become a trackpad - and not have to tire them out by moving them between both devices all the time."
For users concerned it would interfere with typing, he said Touch+ will temporarily suspend when a user types and automatically resume when needed.
Touch+ uses two cameras which track hand positions with computer-vision algorithms, and can enable 3D multi-touch too.
Ractiv, founded last year by Mr Lim and his childhood friend Lai Xue, is the first Singapore startup to be accepted into The Iron Yard, a US-based accelerator which grooms software developers and startups.
"It's great validation, knowing that someone higher-up understands the problem and believes in the potential of our technology," said Mr Lim, who, at 19, became the first Singaporean to be admitted into the Thiel Fellowship, set up by former Paypal chief executive Peter Thiel to groom youths under the age of 20 for careers in scientific research and startups. Thiel Fellows are each awarded US$100,000 over two years - no strings attached - to grow their ideas.
Ractiv raised more than S$580,000 at home, from Singapore-based venture capital firm Red Dot Ventures and the National Research Foundation.
Red Dot Ventures managing director Leslie Loh said: "Gesture-control technology is expected to grow rapidly, given the trend toward the Internet of Things. We see greater need for devices like Touch+ to deliver more intuitive and friendly interfaces when interacting with today's computers."
Last September, Ractiv's crowdfunding campaign for Touch+ raised more than US$180,000 on Kickstarter, exceeding its initial goal of US$100,000. The startup has since shipped the first batch of Touch+ to its backers.
This gadget was officially launched worldwide on Wednesday evening Singapore time at US$75 apiece.