I thought I'd run something by everyone and see if it sparks a few ideas for future devices.
Customers usually take time deciding which keyboard type is best for them. Numeric? Alpha numeric? In reality the decision to use numeric only comes down to the application and the data to be captured. A popular environment for numeric is freezer environments. End users with gloves find it easier to hit big buttons. Right?
But, what other keys is the customer losing out on by being forced to choose a particular keyboard type as a result of their operational needs?
Lets think outside the box for one second. We've all heard of OLED technology. That flexible, super thin touch or non touch screen. The latest flat screen TVs use this technology. There is research happening now to eliminate the need for a hard keyboard for notebooks. Check out this video;
So lets consider this for industrial devices. What would this technology offer us;
So, is this a good idea? Is it possible? Is it appropriate for industrial units? Can it be utilised but remain rugged and reliable? Would the touch screen response be good enough for challenging environments?
How about a flexible VMT unit that can discreetly molded and flexed into the corner of a forklift truck?
Any other ideas for this technology?
decision between a numeric and alphanumeric keyboard depends on many things
like application, customer and... the country. Yes, that's right, there are
differences in the keyboard preference between customers in different
countries, even if the application is the same! So, creating a keyboard that
satisfies every customer is just not possible.
keyboards with variable big buttons are a good compromise and we see more and
more SCL applications which are HTML or Java based and use the touch screens to
display on-screen keyboards. They are slowly but surely replacing text-based
display is actually not so thick. Using a thin OLED would not make a device
much thinner. We have to put some stuff around the display to make sure that
our products withstand shocks and vibrations. Also, there is the touch screen which
needs some room too.
are already common for small mobile phones but the bigger ones are still quite
expensive. If we would use one today, the cost of a VMT would dramatically go
up. However, the cost of OLEDs will go down within the next years.
screens are key for on-screen keyboards and the ideal one doesn't exist yet.
Currently, mostly resistive touch screens are used for industrial environments.
They work with fingers as well as with gloves, pens, (or screwdrivers ), but
they wear over time because of the mechanical stress on the layers. Capacitive
touch screen as being used on smart phones are not that flexible when it comes
to input possibilites. If they are made for finger input, signature capture with a
pen doesn't work. Their advantage is that they work without direct contact and
can therefore sit behind a thick hardened glass. On the downside, they are more
sensitive against dirt on the screen.
disadvantage of on-screen keyboards is the lack of tactile feel and ergonomics.
A key click tone is not really a replacement, especially in noisy
is my ideal VMT keyboard: Only 10-20 big keys made of thick glass and as rugged as
an ATM keyboard. Each key has a little display inside which would allow changing
the key characters on-the-fly. That would combine the flexibility of an
on-screen keyboard with the tactile and ergonomics of a hard keyboard. It could
be configured per customer or even by the application software. Alpha keys in
the morning for username and password and numeric or function keys during the
work shift. Even pictograms and non-Latin letters are possible. Wouldn't that
So you are saying there is a chance
Your idea achieves the same results but is more practical for real world applications. I like it!