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Laser keyboard: Cool way to use your smartphone

Updated on July 26, 2015

Thumb cramps.

Smartphone thumb.

Texting thumb.

These are slang terms describing the injuries people experience associated with the growing use of smartphones. They’re caused by repetitively using our thumbs to type texts and emails using small on-screen keyboards.

Medical professionals advise patients suffering with texting thumb to change the way they use their device – either use the other hand or use their index fingers to type. Another way to eliminate these thumb injuries is to turn to technology and use a laser projected keyboard or virtual keyboard.

This futuristic-looking device turns any flat surface into a standard QWERTY keyboard.

Here's how it works:

The Bluetooth enabled device is packaged in a small battery powered unit. Measuring just 1" x 3" it easily fits in your pocket or purse. (Like your phone, there's no wire to plug in once it’s charged via a mini USB connector.) It works on Android and iOS mobile devices, as well as Mac and Windows laptops and desktops.

Set it near your smartphone or tablet, turn on the device and it projects an image of a standard size keyboard onto your desktop or tabletop. In fact, it works on any flat non-reflective surface that's uniform in color. (Lighter colors work best).

When your finger (or any other object) passes through a key's area, a sensor detects the infrared light reflecting off of its location and the corresponding letter or number pops up on your phone’s screen. You can also set many of these keyboard systems to track the movement of your pointer finger allowing your digit to act as a virtual mouse.

NOTE: Until now, you’ve never used the term “cool” to describe a keyboard, but this gadget with its high “Whoa Factor” changes that. Use it in your favorite Starbucks and expect to pique the interest of fellow coffee lovers.

The laser projected keyboard comes with opportunities and challenges. It expands the size of your mobile keyboard adding keys not normally or easily found on a phone's keyboard (i.e. the quotation mark, apostrophe and arrow keys). Plus when you use this device it provides extra real estate on your phone's screen. Since there's no need for an on-screen keyboard the whole screen is used to display your typing. On the other side of the ledger, expect a bit of a learning curve to master this high-tech keyboard.

Initial setup is fairly easy. Bluetooth will quickly sync with your mobile device in a couple of steps, but you’ll need to tweak the faux keyboard for brightness and sensitivity each time you use it in a different location.

Most of all you’ll need to get used to typing on the projected image of a keyboard. Many brands of this gadget come packaged with typing games to make practicing/learning more fun.

One tech reviewer said he initially spent about three times as long correcting mistakes as he did typing with the device. Others also noted its limitations. "I can't imagine I could ever reach my normal typing speed on this laser keyboard," explained one Amazon customer. "It's simply too different functionally."

However, most users found the pseudo keyboard eased their task of typing with a mobile device. "It put an end to my thumb cramps," raved an iPhone user. Another laser keyboard user was equally happy with her experience. “It is a lot easier to reply to email with this keyboard rather than the options on my phone,” she said.

There are several laser projected wireless keyboards listed on Amazon and most have favorable review averages. The one with the most reviews (200) got 4.5 out of 5 stars.

You can expect to pay between $45 and $150 for a laser projected keyboard. In addition to Amazon, you can find them in Best Buy, Brookstone and office supply stores. -TDowling

© 2015 Thomas Dowling


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    • TDowling profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Dowling 

      3 years ago from Florida

      I think most of us are amazed by some of today's technological advances, RonElFran. Devices like this virtual keyboard seem like science fiction.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Interesting technology. I would imagine that before long virtual display screens as well as virtual keyboards will become standard accessories. That will certainly make mobile devices a lot more usable, at least for those of us who grew up with real keyboards.

    • TDowling profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Dowling 

      3 years ago from Florida

      Thanks sunilkunnoth2012 & misterhollywood for the positive words. It's really unique, isn't it?


    • misterhollywood profile image

      John Hollywood 

      3 years ago from Hollywood, CA

      Never saw this before - ever. Very cool! Voting up!

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 

      3 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Very informative and useful. Hence shared on FB and HP. Keep on reading such useful stuff. All the best.


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