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CTX Virtual Keyboard fits on a keychain

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September 14, 2012

CTX's Virtual Keyboard projects a usable laser outline of a QWERTY keyboard onto any flat ...

CTX's Virtual Keyboard projects a usable laser outline of a QWERTY keyboard onto any flat surface while fitting inside a small keychain

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Even though tablets and smartphones are improving and adding new features all the time, a shrunken keyboard on a touch screen still doesn't compare to the comfort of a full-sized keyboard for typing. There are plenty of solutions for this, from snap-on cases with keyboards built into them to keyboards that fold into a compact package. But these all just make your device less mobile or give you one more bulky thing to carry. For a more compact alternative, Brookstone has begun taking orders for a new virtual keyboard from CTX, which projects a usable laser keyboard onto any flat surface, all while fitting nicely inside a small keychain.

This certainly isn't the first virtual keyboard on the market, but it is the smallest and most affordable to date. Like virtual keyboards of the past, this one projects a laser outline of a full-sized QWERTY keyboard in front of it, while an optical sensor tracks a user's finger movements as they type. A Bluetooth connection lets it sync wirelessly to most smart devices, and a lithium ion battery holds enough power for two hours of typing and can be recharged through USB. Best of all, the whole thing is about the size of a Zippo lighter and can be carried easily in your pocket with your other kind of keys.

The Virtual Keyboard is about the size of a Zippo lighter and can be carried easily in you...

Aside from portability, CTX's virtual keyboard is also much more sanitary than a physical one that accumulates dust and grime the more it's used. On the other hand though, you might have to ignore a few odd looks when you start literally flashing a laser to type out your next text.

Right now, Brookstone is selling the Virtual Keyboard through its website for US$99.99, with plans to begin shipping them out on October 1.

Source: Brookstone

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.   All articles by Jonathan Fincher
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15 Comments

I can see this causing problems to your fingers if used over a long period of time as the finger absorbs the force used.

JSmith
14th September, 2012 @ 12:38 am PDT

re; Giwin

You're typing to energetically. I under stand I learned to type on a manual typewriter myself.

Slowburn
14th September, 2012 @ 07:54 am PDT

Giwin: Wouldn't be any more problems than someone typing on a tablet or other touch screen keyboard.

Kris Suchdeve
14th September, 2012 @ 09:51 am PDT

The images shown don't display any shadowing of the projected images by the typist's fingers. I wonder how realistic that is?

Wombat56
14th September, 2012 @ 04:01 pm PDT

giwin, this isn't an everday use keyboard fo most people. Your concerns about are repetative motion injuries are easily addessed by the end-user. A thin neoprene mat could address fingertip injury concerns. Creating a reusable anchor for the projector for use on a variety of materials would be needed. Image stabilization tech found today cameras could address vibration induced by using the keyboard.

NK Fro
14th September, 2012 @ 07:53 pm PDT

This concept has been around for a few years. On one hand it's remarkable technology, but on the other it lacks that reassuring and gratifying tactile interaction that people crave and it's still just one more thing to carry around and set up to use--plus, it still requires a flat surface of some uncluttered area.

yrag
14th September, 2012 @ 08:31 pm PDT

So how many people know the importance of a Zippo lighter?

Mark A
14th September, 2012 @ 09:59 pm PDT

@Wombat... not very, obviously... but what is also rather obvious, is that it s a MOCKUP... sheesh...

Mark Van Tilburg
14th September, 2012 @ 10:58 pm PDT

wow good stuff......this would be better if it can be integrated into a phone case...then there u go,every one is going to want one.

the sensors and laser projector on the side in landscape mode but thin enough to preserve the sleekness of the phone....

and on the tablet,there is enough room to slap it on a smart cover.....

lord starkphils

Durojaiye Stark Philips
14th September, 2012 @ 11:23 pm PDT

This is like the best smartphone related idea i have seen in a long time. I hope the concept works well. Then it can also be paired with a projected image on the table, transforming a small smartphone into a large screen with large keypad.

It is being increasingly seen that the size of the smartphone cannot be reduced due to the screen size and keypads. Now, the smartphone can fit on a keychain. Yes, yes, yes....

Nantha
15th September, 2012 @ 02:48 am PDT

re; Giwin

You must learn to use a light touch.

Pikeman
15th September, 2012 @ 03:13 am PDT

Wow. Congratulations, CTX, I had this idea 3 years ago. Anyone looking for a futurist?

Fritz Menzel
15th September, 2012 @ 10:31 am PDT

Big whoop. An Israeli company made this 10 years ago. Why is it just coming in to play now?

Matthew Persico
15th September, 2012 @ 03:31 pm PDT

wombat56, why would 'shadowing' be an issue? The unit is projecting

LASER light which can be refreshed at a much higher refresh rate than human vision is capable of detecting as anything other a solid line of light.

Matthew Persico, there's an enormous technolgical gulf separating discovery of a given capability in the lab, and manufacturing the device

at a sufficiently low cost that makes commercial production practical.

NK Fro
17th September, 2012 @ 02:49 am PDT

@Giwin:

Nobody says you have to bang your fingers on a hard tabletop. This is a virtual keyboard---the choice of the actual surface is yours. As long as the surface is flat, and uniformly light-colored, you can type on anything, such as a piece of foam. Duh.

@ Starkphils:

http://www.gizmag.com/go/2864/

Freederick
17th September, 2012 @ 02:51 am PDT
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