We live in a time when portability is key. Jobs become less and less dependent on a fixed place, we’re constantly on the move and our houses become smaller for those wanting to live in the middle of the city. We’re striving to travel lighter and lighter and de-clutter our living space.
I myself am a fast mover. I can work (from) anywhere and I can’t stand clutter – in fact after nearly 3 years my house still looks barely inhabited due to severe lack of furniture and other cozy decorations. Not a choice but lack of time or better said, priorities. I also have other chronic conditions: I can’t think clearly in a messy environment and I’m a germophobe, so for me the less I have to touch, the better. And the screens of smartphones and computers are by far the dirtiest appliances in a home. Ever looked closely at a keyboard, especially the one in your work desk? Well, if you look carefully you might just see it moving and breathing, that’s how much “life” it supports.
And because the less I touch, the better, I’m nominating the Laser Keyboard as the Quirk for a Germ Free Living!
What it is and how it works: Functioning on the same principle as a classic keyboard, this device can be as small as a pack of chewing gum. Connected via Bluetooth or USB it projects a digital image of a keyboard over which an invisible parallel infrared light layer is generated. The keyboard image is expanded via optical lenses to the usable size while the upper infrared layer detects and interprets the light obstructions produced by typing and sends the signal back to the device. Prices vary but you should be able to get a decent one for less than €30
What it requires: Almost any flat, opaque and non-reflecting surface
What to consider when choosing to get a virtual keyboard:
- compatibility: make sure the virtual keyboard you intend to buy matches your devices operating systems (Android, iOS, Windows etc)
- typing speed: can be above 300 characters/minute, which is reasonable for an average user
- typing delay: may vary in terms of signal recognition
- sound feedback: yes, it generates stroke sounds as you type, and this needs to be adjustable if you’re sensitive to keyboard noise
- light adjustments: look for a device that allows light adjustment, so you can use it also in bright and sunny places
- charging: available via USB and/or battery
- battery life: this one is quite a consumer because it projects light, it should last you 2-3 good hours before running out of juice
- sleep mode: also in relationship to an enhanced battery life, might be nice to have
- for even more portability, there are devices that double their purpose as a speaker, like the ShowMe, just keep in mind that double function means a bigger toll on the battery life
When you’ll find the virtual keyboard most handy:
- you’re traveling. No quirky remark here as I don’t really know anyone who carries their keyboard when traveling
- you’re a germophobe and the idea of touching a living inanimate object makes you cringe. Unless you want the lowest maintenance pet there is
- you’re a hipster and like to work in plain sight – make sure you bring a table placement if your favorite coffee-shop has glossy tables
- the sound of typing strokes makes you gag for some reason (maybe you’re the reason and I’m already afraid of you, weirdo!)
- you come back from your holiday to this
because your colleagues missed you a little too much. Or they were jealous. Yeah, they were definitely jealous, assholes!