One drawback of traditional computer keyboards is that there are a significant number of keys some users need to use on a regular basis that are not easily accessible. Another negative is the huge number of shortcuts that must be learned on a traditional keyboard for each new software program.
The new 101touch keyboard from the Czech Republic-based company of the same name addresses those issues by replacing the traditional keyboard with a completely touch-screen based solution. The keyboard allows the user to shift around keys to whatever positions they want them to be in and add frequently-used functions so that they no longer require any shortcuts to reach them. Playing a computer game will be easier with the 101touch because of the keyboard’s customizable intuitive controls that do away with the need to use a mouse to look through menus or memorize short-cuts and hidden functions. Although it was built using Android, the keyboard is compatible with any computer operating system, including MS-DOS, Windows, Linux, OS X and BIOS. New keyboard layouts can be installed quickly, the company claims, whenever the user shifts to a new program. To help parents limit the amount of time that their kids are spending on a computer, there is a time lock feature that sets how long the keyboard will be active for and when that time is up, the keyboard shuts down and cannot be reactivated without a password.
The keyboard uses an emulator that makes it possible for users to connect the 101touch to a computer and have it immediately start working, without any installation. Keys that computer users don’t use regularly have also been replaced with the most commonly-used computer functions, including open, save, save as and print. Although the keyboard presented in photos at the Kickstarter campaign website has two screens, that is only a prototype and the final version of the device will have only one display. Backers who pledge £99 (~$154) will get the keyboard when it ships in November. The company is looking to raise £180,000 (~$279,400).
One drawback of a touch-based keyboard is that the user doesn’t get the tactile feel of a traditional keyboard each time a key is pressed, unless the 101touch’s makers can come up with a way to duplicate that experience. Gamers and other computer users who want to get some of the same benefits of the 101touch, but without the touch keyboard, will find the customizable Optimus Maximus keyboard a more appealing option.