A UK student has created a semi-functional virtual keyboard system for the iPhone that, as far as hardware goes, requires only a table and the iPhone itself. The system uses the built-in accelerometer to determine how far away a finger is hitting the table by judging vibration strength relative to the phone.
Currently the virtual keyboard is only 80% accurate and, from the demo video, is slow enough that it could never make a viable keyboard. However, the developer says that with future upgrades to the accelerometer accuracy could be improved. We also assume that with future improvements to CPU performance that speed would also become less of an issue.
While this ‘app’ is still very much in the proof of concept phase, it has some pretty exciting connotations. We’ve already seen smartphones with built-in laser projectors and laser-projected keyboards have been around for a while now. It’s not outside the realm of possibility, or even probability, that the future could bring a smartphone with a built-in laser keyboard.
Such a function would be incredibly handy for replying to long emails, or even searching the web. It could essentially lend the typing functionality of a tablet to a smartphone, providing the user had a large enough flat surface on which to type.
Unlike most cool smartphone concepts we run in to, this one might actually see a viable level of applicability in just a few more generations of devices. Processing power is already surprisingly impressive on smartphones and several companies are focusing R&D on minimising and improving laser projection technology.
We’re not saying you can expect something like this on the iPhone 5S or even 6. But perhaps in just a handful of years we’ll see a couple of real-world attempts by at least one manufacturer. Although, realistically, it’ll probably make its debut as an optional accessory.
Oh, wait. It kind of already is one.