by Nanea Kalani, Business editor
|This drawback results in alternative, often clumsy,
forms of data input, such as handwriting recognition pads or
typing messages on a miniature numeric keypad.
But, a solution to faulty data input features has arrived on
the market: a light-projected keyboard for PDAs and other hand-held
Canesta, a San Jose-based electronics company, has designed what
it calls an integrated projection keyboard to eliminate having
to lug numerous gadgets around when working on the move, according
to their Web site, canesta.com.
The development allows users to convert any flat surface, such
as tabletops and airplane and train seat-back trays, into a keyboard. “You
simply take your PDA, it shines a keyboard onto the table, and
you just type on the table as if it were a keyboard,” said
Jim Spare, Canesta’s vice president of product marketing,
in an interview with BBC News.
The electronic perception technology watches your fingers move
and translates that into keystrokes in the device,” Spare
continued. “It can also do mouse functions so you get the
ease of a full-size keyboard, but it appears anywhere you want
to use it.”
The innovative light-projected keyboard is made possible by a
small sensor with three chips–one that beams the keyboard
image, and two that pick up the movement of typing fingers, said
Spare. When typing on the infrared keyboard, typing movements
interact with the light and sends signals to the sensor.
Industry experts see the new technology having great possibilities. “Giving
machines such perceptual capabilities would make possible a whole
new class of devices and products,” said Kevin Werbach,
co-organizer of PC Forum, an annual gathering for technology-industry
executives and entrepreneurs.
For example, the automotive industry has applied the technology
to enhance safety features, according to Siemens Automotive.
The company has created a three-dimensional sensor for cars,
to “map out” drivers’ and passengers’ exact
locations in real time, to improve airbag deployment.
Also, medical facilities and hazard areas could benefit by having
light-projected input devices for sanitary purposes. And, video
game controllers could become a thing of the past if the infrared
technology is used to create games that could be played using
gestures instead of hand-held controls. The possibilities are
The device sells for about $200. For more information visit canesta.com.