March 22, 2002
11:55 PM   Subscribe

I've been using a folding, portable keyboard with my Visor for about a year now. Very handy. On Monday, Siemens unveiled an even more portable one at CeBIT. (My first post. Hope it's appropriate.)
posted by dobbs (32 comments total)
Way, WAY cool, junior! Good for a first post. Don't let others tell you otherwise!
posted by davidmsc at 1:25 AM on March 23, 2002

The virtual interface from Developer VKB Inc. from Jerusalem in Israel can be integrated in mobile phones, laptops, tablet PCs, or clean, sterile and medical environments and could be a revolution for the data entry of any mini computer. The mini projector that detects user interaction with the surface also simulates a mousepad.

I probably wouldn't use it myself (I'm the type of girl who likes her keyboards to sound crunchy) but I think it's awesome, especially for sterile environments -- no more gunk between the keys because there are no keys!

Good post, dobbs.
posted by lia at 1:27 AM on March 23, 2002

Sooooo sweet! Thanks for giving me something else to think about tonight. Whoa. . .

The future's finally here. Internal combustion engine, now this?
posted by crasspastor at 1:35 AM on March 23, 2002


wow. how cool. i'd love to test it out just to see how easy/accurate it is...

but. wow. how cool.
posted by cheaily at 2:12 AM on March 23, 2002

Wow...unbelievable. We really are living like the Jetsons now.
posted by Sonserae at 3:05 AM on March 23, 2002

Has anyone got a mop? I seem to have created a sizeable pool of drool.
posted by MUD at 4:30 AM on March 23, 2002

I'll wait for the ergonomic version.
posted by adampsyche at 5:11 AM on March 23, 2002

That's VERY cool. But I'm not sure how practical it is. IN the first place, no sound, touch,etc. In the second, it looks more useful for a PC; not a PDA.

Off topic: has anyone been able to get e-mail in and out of their Visor from OE and OS 9.2? E-mail me.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:16 AM on March 23, 2002

I know that there have been issues for keyboards in the past in terms of tactile feedback, which I expect will bog down sales of this one, but overall the product is extremely cool.
One of the best parts about it is instant keyboards changes; switching to Dvorak would no longer require prying off all of one's keys and moving them about, not to mention switching to other languages.
posted by j.edwards at 5:54 AM on March 23, 2002

From now on my errors and typos are due to the fact that my coffee cup got in th wauy.
posted by lucien at 5:55 AM on March 23, 2002

If they could make a mode that would toggle the keyboard LEDs to a barcode reader, that'd truly rock.
posted by Qubit at 6:24 AM on March 23, 2002

The device might emit a sound to get over one of the interface problems, but I'm not sure it would be especially practical on a plane, train, or subway. Still, I WANT TO TRY IT OUT! Also, the multi-language implications are revolutionary....
posted by ParisParamus at 6:32 AM on March 23, 2002

Mark my words, the most awe inspiring byproduct of this: the virtual piano keyboard.
posted by ColdChef at 6:52 AM on March 23, 2002

i want a tiny computer that projects the keyboard out one side and the video out the other, in color. that would be great, someone start working on that :)
posted by rhyax at 7:30 AM on March 23, 2002

Okay- I'm going to geek out a bit here... This could revolutionise gaming interfaces. Forget hitting "T" to target, needing to learn weird keyboard shortcuts every time you pick up a new game. Currently, the disparity between the controls on screen and on desk is high. This technology could eradicate that. For example, in a space sim, just project the cockpit button layout on the desk.
posted by kahboom at 7:36 AM on March 23, 2002

This is smashingly cool. I've long thought that a virtual keyboard wouldn't work because of a lack of tactile feedback (I get my fingers on the wrong row enough zx ut us). Now I can actually find out. We issue portable keyboards with iPaqs at work. A slimmer solution is always good.

Eeep--saw kahboom's comment on preview: Johnny Mnemonic, anyone?
posted by frykitty at 7:39 AM on March 23, 2002

Coldchef, I doubt it has variable intensity striking, which is necessary for a piano keyboard.
posted by NortonDC at 7:53 AM on March 23, 2002

Coldchef, I doubt it has variable intensity striking, which is necessary for a piano keyboard.

I think that's right. We spent a little time brainstorming how this puppy works at work yesterday and it looks like there are two elements. The top portion is the display device and can display pretty much anything. It's hard to tell from the Israeli site, but it looks like just an LED projecting through a gobo. Using a laser just wouldn't give a quick enough refresh rate. The lower portion is just a range finding device - radar, surface acoustic wave. The device has a good idea of where the keyboard is being projected so it can easily tell when a finger touches the virtual keyboard by detecting the finger's reflection. The downside is that it looks lkike the device isn't taking output *from* the computer just sending input, so it also means that other virtual displays aren't easily created. Now, if they move forward and couple it to a DLP projector, then it starts to get a lot more interesting, and there's probably no reason that the driver couldn't be hacked to just return an x,y coordinate over the virtual surface which could then be interpreted in an alternate interface.

All in all, a really cool device that's the first step.
posted by warhol at 8:12 AM on March 23, 2002

Wow, nice first post!

Reminds me of two sites I was thinking of posting but decided not to since I lack the requisite snarkniness. The first brings gestures to ANY app in windows. The main reason I used the Opera browser was because gestures sped up my surfing immeasureably, but I didn't like it's Java support. Now, I can use StrokeIt and use gestures in IE, Word, anything I want. I haven't used Opera in about a month now. (that reminds me, I better regsiter StrokeIt...)

The other product filed under the "I want!" category is Fingerwork's Stealth keyboard. A membrane dealie that supports gestures. Zoom in by grouping your fingers together and splaying out. Zoom out by bringing them together. Cut a selecting by bringing your thumb and forefinger together. Pretty cool stuff. Cool enough that I imagine it's been linked before, but I hope you won't turn me into the double post police.

But your link is way cooler, so thanks!
posted by Tacodog at 8:21 AM on March 23, 2002

Snarkiness even.
posted by Tacodog at 8:22 AM on March 23, 2002

Very cool. I wonder if the lack of tactile feedback from the keys gives this a bit of a learning curve to know how far to tap for each keystroke.
posted by holycola at 8:49 AM on March 23, 2002

That is the coolest thing I've ever seen. I was at the bookstore yesterday and some guy was sitting by the window in the e-bar typing into his Visor on one of the folding keyboards you mentioned, imagine if he had one of these, people would be doing double-takes at this dude pecking away at the table-top.
Actually, I wonder if that keybord could be projected onto the floor in a really large size. You could type letters like Tom Hanks and Peter Boyle playing piano in Big.
posted by jonmc at 8:50 AM on March 23, 2002

The Senseboard is another good "virtual keyboard" for those of you who are good at touch typing.
posted by KnitWit at 9:28 AM on March 23, 2002

Put me into the not sure I'd be able to type without the tactile feed back camp. I need to be able to play with it to be sure, but I just don't think I could do it. It seems pretty good for hunt and peck typists though.

What I would like to see is if they can improve the resolution and deliver RGB (it appears to be monochromatic).

If they could do those two things, then this could be integrated with the computer display to create a cheap, desk-sized touch sensitive display. That is the computer of my dreams.
posted by willnot at 9:43 AM on March 23, 2002

ParisParamus: Off topic: has anyone been able to get e-mail in and out of their Visor from OE and OS 9.2?

I know you said to email you but I thought that if anyone else is having Visor problems that they might want to post their Qs to VisorCentral. Helpful bunch over there... though you might already be familiar with the site.

As an aside: Woohoo! Yay me for a successful first post! Thanks everyone.
posted by dobbs at 9:48 AM on March 23, 2002

The thing that is a little strange about this is that it takes some of the portability out of your PDA. It can only be used on a very flat surface and if take it out into bright light you wouldn't be able to see what you were typing.
And if you use it with a device that doesn't need to be portable then why not use a real keyboard?

I'm surprised that with all of the discussion about this keyboard no one has mentioned the Eleksen KeyCase keyboard. It's made of fabric and wraps around your PDA when not in use.
posted by itchyrobot at 10:12 AM on March 23, 2002

Do I have to draw a map to my lap??
posted by Settle at 10:38 AM on March 23, 2002

frykitty: ew. ipaq.
heard about this a few days ago. truly amazing. how long before the holographic interfaces simply: yum.
posted by sixtwenty3dc at 11:45 AM on March 23, 2002

I have the feeling we'll be seeing James Bond using one of these in his next film, typing on the back of a beautiful naked woman.

(Way cool link, dobbs!)
posted by Down10 at 12:18 PM on March 23, 2002

You could type letters like Tom Hanks and Peter Boyle playing piano in Big.

It was Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia, but nice idea nonetheless.
posted by diddlegnome at 8:38 PM on March 23, 2002

Is using thiskeyboardand less tacticle than using the keyboard on a Palm or VisorPDA?
posted by ParisParamus at 5:18 AM on March 24, 2002

That is so TASTY.

My question is, will it map if you're on a bumpy surface, or does it need to be perfectly smooth? Like if I was sitting on the floor and wanted to type on the carpet...
posted by metrocake at 12:38 PM on March 24, 2002

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