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Invisible Keyboard

Keyboard that touches you ... on your fingers
  (+4, -3)
(+4, -3)
  [vote for,

Many people are becoming touch typists even tough they had no formal typing training. I've noticed that it's rare to see people hunting for keys these days - these are the users that the invisible would be best suited for.

The invisible keyboard would be a set of electronic caps or pads coveing the tips of your fingers. The most critical part of touch typing is tactile feedback. The feedback would be provided to your fingertips through the caps - making your fingers feel like they were moving over a keyboard based on your finger's location. Basically you could feel all the bumps of the keyboard with your fingers even though there was no keyboard in sight - all the info would be projected to your fingers based on their location in space. You would also get the sensation of pressing the key and releasing it. A sensor would detect your finger movements and translate them into key touches while providing you with the appropriate feedback.

Of course this will never be as efficient as a regular keyboard but it could have some very interesting applications. You could literarly type in mid air or on any flat or sloped surface (for greater comfort). No more fiddling with a stylus, no more strange and inneficient cell phone style input methods. Just let your fingers do the talking.

The down side would be another strange sight in the streets. Not only would you see people people apparently talking to themselves but their fingers would be twitching at an erie rate of 60 wpm.

Note that there is a similar idea where the keyboard is esentially a flat electronic sheet that you can roll up... the disadvantage of the roll up keyboard is that you can't really feel the keys. With invisible keyboard you would feel the keys + you would save even more space. As users got comfortable using this technology, it would quickly develop into form of sign language that could be used as computer input.

ixnaum, Sep 03 2005

Laser keyboard http://www.overcloc...b.com/?read=7328384
[fridge duck, Sep 03 2005]

Wikipedia: Proprioception http://en.wikipedia...wiki/Proprioception
The sense of where your body is, based on what you're bumping into and how hard. [jutta, Sep 05 2005]

CyberTouch tactile feedback option (in glove) http://www.immersio...cts/cyber_touch.php
Combine that with the bend-sensors on a glove to build a prototype. [jutta, Sep 05 2005]

CyberGrasp http://www.immersio...cts/cyber_grasp.php
Exoskeleton that prevents fingers from going through a virtual model. Would freak people out, though. [jutta, Sep 05 2005]

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       Voice recognition represents an alternative to this, not a replacement. There are many situations in which typing is a more appropriate method of data input.   

       For the virtual keys to exert a force on your fingers, they need to be braced against something. The user's wrist seems to be the easiest option for true midair typing, but if this was designed instead for use on a suitable flat surface, then it could work as follows:   

       User wears gloves, each of which have solenoids projecting from the fingertips. When the finger is over a key position, the solenoid extends down as far as it can, and can then offer resistance as the user presses the key.   

       I'm not sure about the invisible bit though; you'd reach a larger market if new users could see what they were pressing. Maybe one of those laser projection keyboards could be combined with this proposed touch feedback system?
david_scothern, Sep 03 2005

       This idea inspires me to invent the "invisible display unit".
Ian Tindale, Sep 03 2005

       Pa've I also got a D in typing ... but since then I have been typing so much that now I suddenly know how to type ... I didn't want to learn but I did all on my own.   

       If you can't type this idea is not for you. In fact on the box there will be a   

       WARNING: if you can't type this product sucks   

       david ... as for the feedback system. Yes that is a weak point of this .. I was thinking there is some way to send elecrical impulses to the receptors on your fingertips to simulate sensation of touch .. But I doubt it.
ixnaum, Sep 03 2005

       It's more about the resistance that the keys put up though, I think... you need to be able to feel that you've pressed the key sufficiently as opposed to just touching it. I don't know... maybe the increasing pressure could be replaced by increasing heat. It'd take a bit of learning, but it would work.
david_scothern, Sep 05 2005

       David's touching on an important point - there are two senses involved here, the haptic (touch) and kinaesthetic (motion/resistance aka proprioception) sense.   

       There are some haptic interfaces that either move things around or heat them up to give you the illusion of touching a specific surface, but I don't know of any simulated proprioception outside of dreams.   

       Unlike David, I don't think you can substitute one for the other, and I think you really want proprioception to type. (Just a gut feeling, not data.)   

       Once built, the device will either be worn on your head or look like a bracelet or wristwatch - because it'll have to tap into the nerves relating your hand muscle activity back to your brain, not sit at the finger tips.
jutta, Sep 05 2005

       //maybe the increasing pressure could be replaced by increasing heat.//
That would be most amusing when holding down CAPS, Alt, Tab, shift and Ctrl keys!. Good point though.
gnomethang, Sep 05 2005

       jutta, - you might be able to substitute one for sound (if you get the sound completely right in every aspect that matters - background, submissive, expected, and it sounding like something being pressed with varying degrees of 'give' and 'resistance'). Liked the submodally associative language, by the way (touching on an important point).
Ian Tindale, Sep 05 2005

       + A novel idea: I would like to extend it to play the piano at my office desk.
Ling, Sep 06 2005


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