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Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryGesture recognition
Founded1998; 26 years ago (1998)
DefunctJune 2005; 18 years ago (2005-06)
FatePurchased by Apple Inc.
HeadquartersNewark, Delaware, United States
ParentApple Inc.

FingerWorks was a gesture recognition company based in the United States, known mainly for its TouchStream multi-touch keyboard. Founded by John Elias and Wayne Westerman of the University of Delaware in 1998, it produced a line of multi-touch products including the iGesture Pad and the TouchStream keyboard, which were particularly helpful for people suffering from RSI and other medical conditions. The keyboards became the basis for the iPhone's touchscreen when the company's assets were acquired by Apple Inc. in early 2005.


Westerman was working on a dissertation on chord-based manipulation with a multi-touch surface while a doctoral student at the University of Delaware. He and Elias, a professor in his department, started FingerWorks while he was finishing his dissertation, which formed the basis for some of the company's products. Westerman developed repetitive stress problems while finishing his dissertation, which inspired active focus on low-impact inputs.[1]

A Fingerworks Touchstream keyboard

The company's products remained a high-end niche, and something of a curiosity, despite good press and industry awards.[2][3] In early 2005, FingerWorks went through a rocky period, and stopped shipping new products or responding actively to support requests. While they updated their support forums between April and June with new information, outside reports indicated that they had been acquired by a major technology company.[4] This company turned out to be Apple, which acquired the company's patents and other intellectual property along with Elias and Westerman. The technology was used to create the Apple iPhone which launched in 2007.[5]

In June 2005, FingerWorks officially announced they were no longer in business.[6] The founders continued to file and process patents for their work through late 2007.[7] As of August 2008 they still filed patents for Apple, Inc.[8]


  • TouchStream LP – a full-sized, folding split keyboard, with a flat membrane and zero-force keys. The entire keyboard surface has multitouch support that converts finger movements of different combinations of fingers into mouse and macro events. It comes with chording modes for graphics, Emacs, and gaming.
    Surface inclination: 0-10 degrees; Adjustable split angle & separation
    Active area: 5 by 13 in (13 by 33 cm) Weight: 13 oz (370 g)
Touchstream keyboard
  • TouchStream Mini – a one-hand keyboard + mouse keypad, with 15mm keys (75% normal size). Active area: 5 by 6.5 in (13 by 17 cm)
  • MacNTouch – a double-width multitouch surface originally made to physically replace the keyboard in compatible Apple laptops. Also appeared in an enclosure to be used as a separate device, under the name Digitouch.
  • iGesture Pad – a one-hand gesture pad for mousing and gestures. Active area: 6.25 by 5 in (15.9 by 12.7 cm)
  • iGesture NumPad – like the iGesture Pad but with numeric keypad, PgUp/Dn etc., and arrow keys superimposed.
  • iGesture Retro[9] – a one-hand gesture pad embedded into a full-size Microsoft keyboard


  1. ^ Wayne Westerman, 1999. Hand Tracking, Finger Identification, and Chordic Manipulation on a Multi-Touch Surface Archived February 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ The New York Times, January 2002 : No Press, No Stress: When Fingers Fly
  3. ^ The 2005 included the WinPad, a new FingerWorks design that never made it into production
  4. ^ In April 2005 Archived August 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, former FingerWorks CEO Jeffrey White was described as follows: "Jeffrey White was most recently the CEO and Chairman of FingerWorks, Inc. a privately held producer of Computer Software and Hardware targeted at the input systems market. In this capacity, he successfully transformed a fledgling startup into a leading edge provider of input technologies, which was ultimately acquired by a multi-billion dollar supplier of IT software and hardware for a price equal to 25 times revenue." from Coates Analytics
  5. ^ Merchant, Brian (June 22, 2017). The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone. Transworld. pp. 102–112. ISBN 978-1-4735-4254-9.
  6. ^ March 10, 2006. Mac Rumors notes the company's closing the year before.
  7. ^ Patent list for Fingerworks, 2006-2007
  8. ^ Beyond Multi-Touch: Voice, Gaze, Facial Expression Recognition
  9. ^ "From the Fingerworks site". Archived from the original on March 25, 2008. Retrieved June 24, 2008.

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