I learned to print capital letters in kindergarten and lower case letters in first grade. I learned to write cursive in third grade. In high school I learned to type—QWERTY—on a manual typewriter and on an electric, reaching 55 wpm. Later I learned to use a keyboard, then an ergonomically curved keyboard, then a touch pad, a stylus, and most recently, an iPhone touch screen.
But soon I might be writing the great American novel on one of these:
A thin, almost see-through key pad to which a device (about the size of a pack of cigarettes) sends lasers which pick up the movement of fingers and sends signals to an electronic device, such as an iPad. It’s available now for $119.99 from Brookstone.
If you find keying into phone’s tiny keyboards hard, you could attach a strap over each hand and type on any surface you want, with or without a keyboard. Air Type detects the movements of your fingers and turns them into electronic signals to your phone or other device.
Then there is the roll up keyboard called the Qii which rolls to the size of a roll of coins. Via Bluetooth it connects to your electronic device.
The Celluon Magic Cube projects a laser onto a flat surface creating a virtual full-size keyboard which connects to electronic devices via Bluetooth.
All of these keyboards use the QWERTY arrangement of letters. But what if you want a different arrangement? Then you can use the Puzzle Keyboard which enables you to connect letters in almost any arrangement you like.
For people with physical disabilities there is the one-handed keyboard, a roundish mouse-like device with several buttons. Pressing various combinations of buttons creates various letters and punctuation.
If you like the look and feel of an old-fashioned typewriter, you could get Qwerkywriter, a keyboard which looks like a 1950’s era typewriter. It uses Bluetooth to connect to electronic devices.
One odd-looking innovation already available is a one-handed wearable keyboard called Tap made by Tap Systems. While wearing rubbery finger bracelets, tap your index finger and get an “E.” Tap two fingers together and get other letters. Tapping the middle finger and the pinky produces a “Z.”
Another innovation is Leap Motion’s digital menu which can attach to the palm of one hand, allowing you to tap on it with your other hand. The signals are picked up by an electronic device.
On the horizon are vision controlled devices which would allow you to stare at particular letters, inputting those letters into an electronic device.
Perhaps most futuristic is the technology of Openwater, which is figuring out how to track your thought waves. Think “water” and w-a-t-e-r appears on your electronic device.
Cursive has been eliminated, and from what I see, so has keyboard instruction. Maybe in a few years we will need no pens, keyboards or smart phones. Instead maybe we’ll send messages one brain to the next with no intermediary technology?
But will the writing be any better?