The iPhone is an absolutely wonderful device. We have gone from computers that take up an entire room, to computers that can make phone calls, take pictures and keep you connected to the world and can easily fit in your pocket. One advance that has been slow to grow has been in the keyboard functionality department. With apps out like Swype, which let you scroll your fingers over keys to type, sending long emails, tweeting frequently or updating your Facebook status is still a cumbersome pain, even with the improved iPhone keyboard. Fortunately, there are a few visionaries out there working on ways to create a virtual keyboard that overcomes this issue with very little work on your end. A few of the examples used here are prototypes that aren’t yet available on the market, and a few are going to land very soon if they aren’t out already.
Vibrative Virtual Keyboard
This is one of the keyboards that has yet to be released to the public, but it appears that it will be making its way out to the world sometime soon. Designed by Florian Kräutli , this keyboard is simply an app that reads the vibrations created by tapping on a table. In an example, a keyboard is drawn on the table, with the same layout that you are used to from a PC or Mac’s keyboard, and the iPhone is set in a specific box to make sure it picks up the right vibrations. It works by using the accelerometer that is built into the iPhone to read vibrations based on where you tap the table. It requires a little set up and calibration, but once it is done, it won’t need to be calibrated again.
Microsoft May Make a Splash
It is almost sacrilege to discuss Microsoft in an article focused on an Apple product, but the technology won’t be something that has to be used specifically with Microsoft software or phones. The prototype is called “Skinput” and it uses a similar vibrative way of reading vibrations and other scientific things to command a phone, or even computer to process commands. The development team is also working on a projector that can be put on your arm, similar to the cuff from a blood pressure machine, which will project images on your arm and hand to make it easier to navigate. So what does that have to do with getting an iPhone keyboard on your table?
Projection Based Keyboards
A few years ago a company in Asia showed off a pen that could be put into a stand and set up as a keyboard projector. The keyboard would show up as a bright red board and it would read the key presses based on the specific light spectrums you broke when typing. The videos showed that the software was actually working pretty well, but to make it affordable and ready for the consumers, it probably needs a bit more time before it lands on the market.
So unless you have a specific talent at programming, you won’t have many options along the same lines as these different versions of full sized keyboards working with an iPhone, but it should give you hope for the future. What you are looking at is a glimpse of the future. It could be that the Vibrative Virtual Keyboard will appear on the App Store very soon, once it is fully tested and ready for the market, but you can probably imagine that the next iterations of the iPhone will start to incorporate some of this new technology.
By looking outside of the world of Apple, you can see tablets like Microsoft’s Surface, which are designed to stand up as a laptop, and it is not unreasonable to think that a near future iPhone will include this same type of stand, and a keyboard projector. That would mean that you could place your iPhone on a desk, standing on its side, and it would project a virtual keyboard onto your surface. While it will initially be very strange to simple tap on a table to type out words, the same argument could be said about using a keyboard on a screen for a phone to type out messages and surf the web. It seemed like magic at the time, it was simply science, doing what it does best, taking us to new places that we won’t be able to live without once we have used them.
Chris Richards is passionate about technology and online security. He is putting his passion to work perusing a career in criminal justice. He hopes to one day use his knowledge of cyber security in a career with Homeland Security.