Wayne Westerman

UD Electrical Engineering Phd, 1999

Purdue presidential Honors scholar, BS EE 1994
National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow 1995-1998
UD Visiting Assistant Professor 1999-2003
CIA/DCI Post-Doctoral Fellow 2004


Prof. John Elias and I began our Multitouch research in 1996 as a serendipitous outgrowth of neuromorphic systems experiments.  We were interested in training the neuromorphs to memorize multi-point paths, like the patterns sensed by a patch of skin when fingers skim across.  With no multi-touch tablets on the market to capture such patterns, we soon got ‘side-tracked’ building our own, drawing on the same analog VLSI and capacitive circuitry expertise with which we designed silicon neuromorphs. 

Multitouch for Universal Input

John and I had an ambitious vision for multi-touch as a seamless input device to replace both desktop keyboard and mouse.  We developed a sophisticated finger tracking and identification system, gesture recognition libraries, and typing recognition algorithms, as documented in my Ph.D. dissertation:

Hand Tracking, Finger Identification, and Chordic Manipulation
on a Multi-Touch Surface
(2.5 Mbyte PDF)

See also U.S. Patent #6,323,846 and the 2001 Human Factors & Ergonomic Society Proceedings.

Many were (and still are) skeptical that accurate touch typing would be possible without the tactile feedback of depressible keys and sharp key edges.  But with “zero-force” activation, speeds of 60wpm are achievable with practice, whereas speeds on earlier flat, force-sensitive ‘membrane’ keyboards were limited to about 40wpm.


John Elias and I founded FingerWorks as I finished my dissertation.  FingerWorks' first product, the iGesture Numpad, went on sale in the fall of 2001.  The TouchStream keyboard launch in early 2002 was covered by the NY Times. Major articles about FingerWorks and UD include:

  1. BulletNo Press, No Stress, When Fingers Fly
    New York Times, January 24, 2002

  2. BulletUniversity of Delaware Researchers Develop Revolutionary Interface
    Science Daily, Oct. 10, 2002

  3. BulletAn Ergonomic Keyboard Has Typists Floating on Air
    New York Times, June 12, 2003

  4. BulletGesture Your Mouse Goodbye
    Wired News, May 28, 2003

  5. BulletWho Needs a Mouse?
    Time Magazine, July 21, 2003

  6. BulletHandy future for gesture sensor
    BBC News, June 10, 2004.

  7. BulletUD researchers seen as innovators of iPhone
    Wilmington News Journal, Jan. 19, 2007

  8. BulletApple’s Magic Touch Screen
    Business Week, March 15, 2007

FingerWorks won the CES Best of Innovations Award for the iGesture Pad before being acquired in 2005. FingerWorks attracted thousands of loyal customers, many of whom depend on their TouchStream keyboards for pain-free computer usage today. Though FingerWorks products are no longer available, Apple's advanced Multi-Touch appears in the iPhone, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro.


Former UD ECE students who interned at the UD Multitouch lab include:

  1. BulletJames Orr, Brian Krasts, Neil Kirpalani, Jason Lebrun, Kevin Mayhew, Eric Lynch, Bill Eisenhower, Hai Zhu, David Bergstein, and Christian Crews

Special thanks to former ECE Dept. Chair Neal Gallagher for funding our first prototype from departmental coffers.

Multitouch research at UD was also supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the CIA/DCI Post-Doctoral Fellow Program.


FingerWorks never had much of a marketing dept., but this texty ad in Macworld conveys the FingerWorks ethos:


Multitouch Blossoms at UD


About Wayne




Wayne Westerman


Lindy Hop, Balboa, Blues, Tango, Salsa


Repetitive Strain Injury: A Computer User’s Guide

Cells, Gels & the Engines of Life

In the Blink of an Eye

Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance