Category Archives: composing on electronic equipment

Writing “keyboards” of the near future

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?


Should you write on electronic equipment or by hand?

If you have a choice to compose either on a laptop or a tablet, or to hand write, use electronic equipment.  It has many advantages. 

You can erase and rewrite easily. Even if you are lazy, you will erase and make changes more than if you are handwriting.

You can cut and paste easily, moving sentences around to create better flow. On paper you can do that too, drawing arrows or actually cutting your paper with a scissors and taping it together in a different order, but face it, you probably won’t.

You know immediately if a word is misspelled and with one click, you know how to correct it. No paging through a dictionary.

You know immediately if you have a grammar problem although you might not recognize what the problem is. But at least you know something is wrong.  When you write on paper, you don’t know you made a mistake.

You can read what you are writing. If your handwriting is poor, or if you forget to skip lines, reading handwritten drafts is difficult.

With electronic equipment you are more likely to revise because you can see what you are doing and you don’t create a mes

Once you know how to type or keystroke, writing on electronic equipment goes faster than handwriting does.

Your work looks professional. You can be proud not only of the content but of its appearance.

Your writing will improve.