As the visual capabilities of tech become more advanced, it’s no surprise that they intersect with functionality.
That’s precisely the case with projection keyboards, a concept that may feel wholly removed from reality, but which are actually not all that complicated at its core.
New Millenium, New Ideas
Not long after the turn of the 21st century, several companies decided that it was time to improve upon the regular old computer keyboard, a piece of technology that was becoming more and more common in the average home.
Of course, keyboards had already undergone more than their fair share of renaissances. From the concept’s beginnings on typewriters, to the wholly foreign development of a computer keyboard, it’s only natural that tech businesses were looking for the next big thing in 2002.
As it turns out, projection keyboards didn’t exactly take off the way you might expect in those early days. This could be due to cost, usability issues, or the simple fact that a laser keyboard was, at the time, far too futuristic a product to take root. Now, though, no tech innovation is off limits for digital natives.
A Different Type of Input
No matter what type of keyboard you’re using, it’s simply an input device at its core. When you type on your laptop’s keyboard, you’re inputting a series of commands that writes out words, opens new tabs, or copies and pastes. Using a projection keyboard is largely the same.
Rather than a physical device, projection keyboards are basically compact lasers with special optical lenses. When placed on a flat surface, they project a standard keyboard in front of you using a red laser. Then a special infrared sensor, which sits just above the projected keyboard, analyzes the areas that your fingers touch to determine what you’re typing.
Often through bluetooth technology, the projection device can connect with your smartphone, computer, or tablet, much like any other regular wireless keyboard might. This is particularly useful for those who have trouble typing out longer messages with touch screens, or whose fingers are simply too big for their phone keys.
The Good and The Bad
Projection keyboards are different from virtual keyboards in that practically every electronic device has a virtual keyboard built in. When you go to type a text on your smartphone, or search Google with your tablet, you’re typing on a virtual keyboard.
For many people, the comfort of an actual keyboard helps them more fully and efficiently express themselves, especially when it comes to formulating professional messages or completing work. Imagine if everyone in a fast-moving workplace could carry a tablet with a projection keyboard rather than a laptop; it would save both time and space.
On the other hand, projection keyboards won’t work just anywhere. Say, for example, you commute on the train and like to catch up on your emails before you get to the office. Unless you have a dedicated flat surface in front of you, a projection keyboard simply won’t work efficiently, as it won’t be able to track your movements.
Much like holograms and other visual trickery are becoming more sophisticated, projection keyboards are getting more useful as well.