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Marbles Keyboard

Hot-swappable keys
  [vote for,

I read the original bakery idea for a 'Marble Keyboard' recently. However, a keyboard made of stone wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

I propose a keyboard where each 'key' is a glass marble. Naturally, this allows keys to be swapped around. This is handy when sharing a computer between QWERTY and Dvorak users, international students or espionage agents ("...these marbles will self-destruct in 60 seconds").

It opens up the potentional for collectable sets of keys, (e.g. pokemon, super-heroes, iraqi officials, etc). However this might be the first keyboard with an age limit of 3+, on account of the 'choking hazard'.

How it works.


Each key would be a glass marble of a unique colour. The 'body' of the keyboard would contain a keyboard-like array of hemi-spherical 'holes', not unlike an egg tray. A light-sensor in each hole would identify the current marble according the wavelength of light transmitted. Key presses would, likewise, be registered as brief changes by the light-sensors.

The final result would lie somewhere between input device and executive desk-toy. In deference to the previous marble-keyboard idea, the body of the keyboard can be an elegant, marble edifice, if so desired...

riposte, Jul 17 2003

The original 'Marble Keyboard' idea http://www.halfbake...a/Marble_20Keyboard
Stylish, but rather heavy [riposte, Oct 04 2004]

anyplace you wanna stick 'em keys http://www.halfbake...tick_20_27em_20keys
"*the keys can be anywhere*" [phoenix, Oct 04 2004]

custom keyboard layouts http://www.halfbake...0keyboard_20layouts
[phoenix, Oct 04 2004]

Legoboard http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Legoboard
Physically remappable keyboard [phoenix, Oct 04 2004]

Re-mappable keyboard http://www.halfbake...mappable_20keyboard
[phoenix, Oct 04 2004]

Virtual Keyboard http://www.halfbake.../Virtual_20Keyboard
[phoenix, Oct 04 2004]


       Me like.
thumbwax, Jul 17 2003

       //Each key would be a glass marble of a unique colour.//
OK, I know that there are more colours than keys on a keyboard, but can you really distinguish over 100 of them sufficiently well?
angel, Jul 17 2003

       I imagine that the spherical shape and a hard surface of the marble would cause a certain amount of discomfort. Therefore, I suggest that the keyboard contact be a feathertouch one, so that the necessary impact on the digits is minimised.
my face your, Jul 17 2003

       Link, link, link, link and link.
phoenix, Jul 17 2003

       [angel] An average spectrophotometer can distinguish millions of distinct wavelengths, so I would not expect it to be a problem.
riposte, Jul 17 2003

       [rip] I think [angel] means the user.
silverstormer, Jul 17 2003

       [silverstormer] The marble colours are not for the benefit of the user (apart from aesthetically). The user can distinguish each 'key' by the character printed on it.
riposte, Jul 17 2003

       So the key tops would be convex? That sounds uncomfortable, feathertouch or not. Pretty, though.
phundug, Jul 17 2003

       I think this is more about looking cool than feeling good.
DrCurry, Jul 17 2003

       Make them out of candy coated chocolate and you'd have a whole new meaning for hunt-and-peck typing.
dweeb, Jul 17 2003

       I'd hate to accidentally knock the keyboard off of my desk... it is hard to find all your marbles once lost. The cats punting them under the stove makes it all the more difficult. I'd recommend that the cup be able to suction onto the marble.   

       The suction idea will also keep all the letters/numbers facing up, rather than rolling over to the side at the first keypress.
butterhed, Jul 18 2003

       Well, pretty cool, but... It will take power to recognize signals, y not go all out. Have the "keyboard" be projected as a hologram and let the hologram be programmable. When you change the key locations the program updates the sensors that sense your fingers on the keys. Not only changeable keys but also less space as the projector would be small and unobtrousive when turned off. Of course the technology might take a while so in the mean time... +
althyr, Jul 18 2003


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