Cool, But

We spoke the other day about to type on a phone.

There’s a story here about a “virtual keyboard.” The company’s website is here

This no doubt bestirs images of holographic scifi effects in most minds, but the reality is much more prosaic. Combine a very 2-D projector with a mobile touchscreen, and that’s more like it.

Nonetheless, a solution to a problem is still good even if you haven’t seen Obi-Wan Kenobi use it yet, so the question becomes “How good a solution is this?”

And the answer to that question is, “How serious a typist are you?”

Essentially, users of this product are going to type on whatever surface the little projector project the keyboard image on. If that surface isn’t too steady (i.e. an airline tray), that’s going to make touch-typing rough. That tray is going to wiggle around a little, which will make finger tracking tough, most especially when the Bic-like sensor falls down from all the typing vibrations.

If you set all this good stuff on a rock-solid area, typists will quickly discover another problem: unlike a keyboard, most solid surfaces have no give. You’re going to have some sore fingertips after a while.

Try it yourself. Go to a room with a computer, remove the keyboard, and pretend to type on the desk for a couple hours (we very strongly suggest you LOCK THE DOOR before trying this :)).

I recall the membrane keyboard on the ancient Atari 400. It had practically no give, either, and I can assure you it was less than ideal for typing.

Human beings can get used to just about anything if they have to, and I don’t doubt given the need that if it’s a choice between pecking at a phone or using this, most will find using this much better. Given that choice, I would, too.

But that’s like saying going to the equator in August without air conditioning is much better than going to hell. It’s true, but not comforting, especially if you don’t have to do either.

If you had been thinking, “Oh wow, I have to get one for my desktop just because it’s so cool,” (and I must admit, such stray thoughts crossed my mind, too) well, icepacks on fingertips are cool, too, just not the right kind.

Nor is spending $200 on something that ends up gathering dust except when visitors come around.


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