Virtual keyboard could revolutionise telephone usage
By Mike Hanlon
January 20, 2004
The Virtual Keyboard (VKB) has reached market in the UK and the world will be watching over the coming months to see how this new and potentially very important device is adopted. The VKB could revolutionise the way that PDAs and Smartphones are used, exploiting much of the unused computing power of such mobile devices, thushelping users to work more effectively on the move.
The cigarette-lighter-sized VKB uses laser and infrared technology to project a full-size QWERTY keyboard onto any flat surface for almost any palmtop computer, PDA or mobile phone. It is also easily integrated into a mobile phone, with Siemens and Samsung having shown versions of the technology integrated into their phones at recent trade shows. Hutchison Harbour Ring (HHR), a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa, has launched the first virtual keyboard (VKB) in the United Kingdom and been the first to offer the technology to consumers.
Roughly the size of a disposable lighter, (90 x 34 x 24 mm), the VKB enables users to type email or long text as easily as with a conventional keyboard.
The initial product offering is compatible with the Palm 505. July will see the launch of the second version, which will be compatible with SPV E200, X da II, Tungsten T3 and iPAQ h 5550. As compatibility with other devices continues to be developed, additional models will be introduced to the market.
VKB works by using both infrared technology to produce an invisible circuit and laser technology to project a full-size keyboard that performs exactly like a real one. Its direction technology, based on optical recognition, enables users to tap the images of the keys, complemented with the realistic tapping sound, and then feed the commands into the compatible PDAs, Smartphones, lap-top or personal computers. i.Tech Dynamic General Manager Patrick Tsang said applications of VKB are limitless. “It could, for example, revolutionise sterile and medical environments as well as other multi-media and industrial applications,” he said, “We have not come across anything comparable in the world. For the mobile communications and consumer electronics industries, it represents a major breakthrough.”
Avenir Sales and Marketing Director Tanny Price said VKB has significant sales prospects both in the UK and overseas. “We have been highly impressed with sales inquiries from markets worldwide. Indeed, our initial shipment was in strong demand within days of its arrival.”
Initially, sales of VKB to consumers will be through a website and will be rolled out into retail channels as production increases and new versions come on stream.
Hutchison Harbour Ring Limited (“HHR ”) is a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa Limited ( “HWL ”)(Stock code: 013), one of the largest companies listed on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange . HWL is the holding company of the Hutchison Whampoa Group of companies.
As one of the earliest big “hongs”, or trading companies, in Hong Kong, HWL ’s history dates back to the 1800s. Today, HWL is a multi-national conglomerate with businesses spanning 4 2countries. With over 170,000 employees worldwide, HWL operates and invests in five core businesses: ports and related services; telecommunications; property and hotels; retail and manufacturing; and energy and infrastructure.
HHR is a leading company in the Hong Kong toy industry, which has been listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange since 1991 (Stock code: 715). As an original equipment manufacturer, the company specialises in mass production of a wide range of toys for world leading toy brands. HHR’s subsidiaries are also engaged in the design, marketing and sales of telecommunications accessories, premium and electronic products, licensing as well as property investment.
i.Tech Dynamic Limited (“i.Tech”) was established in 2002 as a division of HHR to specialise in the design, manufacture, marketing and sales of mobile phone accessories, computer peripherals and wireless consumer products. As a young, forward looking enterprise, i.Tech benefits from the experience, expertise and support of both HHR and of HWL . North London-based Avenir Telecom UK Limited is part of the international Avenir Telecom Group. It is one of this country’s leading distributors for mobile phone networks Vodafone, Orange, O2, T-Mobile and 3, major mobile phone manufacturers and accessories and its own Top Suxess accessories brand.