SmartFish Technologies releases shapeshifting Engage ergonomic keyboard
SmartFish Technologies' Engage Keyboard automatically changes position to relieve stress on user's hands and wrists
We first came across SmartFish Technologies’ ergonomic Engage Keyboard at CES 2010 when it was known as the ErgoMotion keyboard. Ahead of CES 2011, where the keyboard will has been named a 2011 Best of Innovations Honoree, the company has now announced its release to the buying public.
Unlike other ergonomic keyboards that adopt different key layouts, the Engage Keyboard is a QWERTY keyboard that is the first to feature a patented motion system that studies the user’s typing frequency and automatically makes periodic adjustments to the position of the keyboard’s two halves and its tilt. These changes in positioning are is designed to promote the natural motion of the user’s hands and wrists and ensure the user’s hands aren’t in a fixed position all day long.
According to Dr. Jack Atzmon, President and CEO of SmartFish, “Engage ensures movement in the user’s typing experience which is crucial for increasing flexibility, circulation and alleviating stress and pain.”
Engage was developed in collaboration with leading orthopedic hospital, The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, with a portion of all proceeds from sales being donated to the hospital to help further research of technologies.
The Engage Keyboard complements the company’s Whirl ergonomic mice (previously known as the ErgoMotion Mouse) and is compatible with PCs. It is available now from SmartFish Technologies for US$149.95.
About the Author
Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.
All articles by Darren Quick
As with many other so-called \"ergonomic\" computer keyboards, there is no attempt to address the basic problem - the QWERTY layout. This in and of itself causes many of the problems keyboard operators come up against, slowing the typist down and causing unnecessary hand travel, which result in the operator having to hold the hand and arm in the air, giving rise to stress and tiredness.
To give an example of this, using QWERTY the number of words which can be keyed in WITHOUT moving the hands from the \"home keys\" is under 200, and many of these are very uncommon, \"useless\" words. Compare this to the Maltron keyboard, where over 7000 words can be keyed in using the Lillian Malt key layout.
This particular keyboard may be \"better\" than a standard flat QWERTY, but that isn\'t a difficult goal to achieve.
I agree that the QWERTY layout is the basic problem. However, I do not think that a keyboard that changes the layout is really a practical solution. I learned to type on a computer keyboard over 30 years ago (I was quite young) and now spend 10 hours a day typing for work alone (medical transcription). I receive a bonus based on speed. For me to try to relearn to type using a different layout would be very costly indeed. You may say that I would probably make it up because of increased speed later but it would not help if I lost my job trying to learn to type all over again. I think the keyboard above is at least a practical attempt to solve the problem. Those who type by the hunt-and-peck method could change keyboards quite easily but are also probably not as much at risk for wrist strain as those whose jobs depend on typing speed. I thought your comment well written and intelligent. I just do not happen to agree with it.
I think you do yourself a disservice in saying it is difficult to \"re-learn\". At the age of 17, I learned to type (QWERTY) in 1967 and in 1980 I bought a computer with word processing software and commenced work typing university theses and essays. In 1986 I bought a Maltron and taught myself the new layout, while typing someone\'s thesis. It took me 6 weeks to get from zero to 15 wpm. I\'ve been a court reporter since 1990 using the Maltron, and I\'m now doing 180-190 wpm for hours on end.
However I can still use a QWERTY. But oh, the pain of it all. Until you\'ve actually done the transition and then gone back, you cannot imagine how much sheer physical effort is involved in using the old keyboard.
One of the things which makes it easier to learn the Maltron is the sheer difference in the \"feel\" of the 3 dimensional keyboard compared to the flat QWERTY. It\'s almost impossible to mentally \"clash your gears\" and get confused, any more than confusing a computer keyboard and a musical keyboard.
The other factor which eases the transition is the position of the keys within the Maltron layout. They are much more logical and hence easier to learn. For example to type the word \"the\" it\'s the right index finger (\"t\") right middle finger (\"h\") and left thumb (\"e\").
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