Virtual Keyboards: Type Anywhere

08.18.16
A virtual keyboard projector such as this can transform any flat service into a keyboard, making you more mobile than ever.
A projector such as this can transform any flat service into a keyboard, making you more mobile than ever.

My mom claims I’ve known how to use a computer since I was 3 years old. Considering I was only just beginning to learn to read, I’m not so sure how true this is, but I do remember being being utterly fascinated with Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, an educational mystery game. What I also remember vividly as a child is learning to type. Between the programs I was using at home and the hours logged on games in my elementary school’s computer lab, it’s easy to understand why most people in my generation can type faster on average than older generations. With the new wave of virtual keyboard and touchscreen technology looming on the horizon, I wonder how much longer I’ll be able to boast my typing speed of 90 words per minute.

Massive Mobile Potential

For those who are curious about what I’m getting at, there is now technology that allows you to ditch the keyboard by projecting a keyboard on any flat service. Especially when paired with tablet or cell phone technology, this keyboard allows for the possibility of using this technology with any Bluetooth-capable devices. But like most revolutionary technology, at some point in the near future this virtual keyboard will become cheaper and more attractive to the general consumer market. It’s already happening, depending on how you feel about spending $100 on a keyboard. It will be interesting to see how this type of technology is perceived by the masses.

For me, it’s hard to imagine typing on a keyboard where I can’t physically feel the keys going up and down. Plus, how can you beat the satisfying sound of the clicking keys when you’re on a roll writing an email or paper? Of course, some of you may welcome the silence that would come with a virtual keyboard. The laser light source also means you don’t have to search for a device with backlit capabilities. With most devices, like those from Celluon, you can adjust the brightness of the keyboard to correspond with daytime and nighttime use. Many virtual keyboards also come with sounds that can be turned on so you can be sure that the device is registering your movements.

This could be especially great for you multi-linguists out there who correspond with people in languages other than English. I find myself switching between English and German while talking with friends on my iPhone and iPad Pro. (I’ll shamelessly plug my blog post on tablet tech here.) I haven’t found the same functionality while working on a keyboard connected to a desktop, but I imagine an innovation to include multiple languages in the projections of virtual keyboards would make this easier. In the meantime, I’ll continue using the Google Input Tools extension on Chrome.

Barriers for the Virtual Keyboard to Overcome

This all sounds pretty cool, right? So why aren’t people clamoring for this new tech? To make a long story short: the functionality just isn’t where it needs to be yet. One reviewer cites problems with a specific device such as inability to resize the keyboard itself, poor mouse functionality on Mac products, and high percentage of typing errors, to name a few.

Of course it’s important to note that each product will have its benefits and pitfalls, but in the current market, virtual keyboards are far from being mainstream. Will there be a breakthrough and a point where all of us will be toting these compact, yet powerful devices? Only time will tell.