Author Topic: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords  (Read 7028 times)

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Offline DonKeyShot

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    • The wearable keyboard and mouse
[IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« on: Sun, 26 November 2023, 17:57:34 »
Contents
1.   Inspiration for the keyboard+mouse
2.   The challenges and solutions
3.   Status
4.   Goal
5.   Vendor information

Inspiration
The goal has been to make a keyboard and mouse wearable without too many compromizes.
So: fast, small learning curve (no chords), lightweight & comfortable, affordable.
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Even more important than the device itself: how it can change the way we work. It’s clearly opening the door to new opportunities.

In the past, I have been using the SafeType vertical keyboard. Though their solution was radical, it was not enough (not good enough, not radical enough).

It inspired me to go hands free. This gives more ergonomic possibilities and it enables many more use cases. My vision for the future is also that AR, next to the immersive 3D applications, will be commonly used as a 2D projected display (though the Hololens may not be around to experience this)

The challenges
The keymap
At first, I didn’t know if it would be possible at all to reach 87 or so keys with a hand-held controllers. Clearly, I would need several Eureka-moments. Initially I was following the path to use combination keys with thumb and regular fingers, a bit like Layered keyboards but then even further down that path. That didn’t really work as pleasant as hoped for, which lead to a major breakthrough: “combining hand tracking with regular keys”.
1.   For reference: a regular keyboard divided in 2 halves. In blue the keys that are by default near the finger tips (as is with a regular keyboard)
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2.   How the hand tracking works.
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The non-default keys (here grey) can be reached using hand tracking. Equal to how you shift the hand a bit to the left on a regular keyboard to reach e.g. the "Tab", such a small move is now detected and translated to a shift in assignment. Alternatively a shift to the right can bemade to reach e.g. the 'T' or 'G'.
This is discrete logic to detect a relative row shift or column shift, so not something that requires accurate absolute positioning and fine motor control.

Further, there is a separate mode distinguishing mouse usage and typing. There is also a ‘numerical mode’, changing the assignment to typical num-pad and related functions.

Hand tracking mouse
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Based on Accelerometer, Gyroscope and Magnetometer with sensor fusion software. Pointing to the screen is being tracked. Actually, relative movements are being tracked, so actually pointing to the screen is not required. These can be relative moves from any preferred arm positions.
Different sensitivity levels are possible. Lower sensitivity for more accurate moves. Both hands have cursor control functionality, allowing for hand specific sensitivity. This also makes multi-touch possible. In addition, calibrations will be avoided by using self-learning algorithms.

The keys
Some things became immediately clear: it should not be a glove or wristband. It should be a rigid ‘table’ with physical keys, which leans on the palm of the hand. (accepting that the palm of a hand will of course never be as steady as the back panel of a desktop keyboard)
And since it’s a two-handed device, this implies that it’s not possible to grab a coffee anymore without getting the device out of the way. A major step back, but from here only steps forward.

Another challenge has been to reduce the finger travel between the nearest and the furthest keys. Here, using multiple key positions on one key (stem+shaft) has been a major breakthrough.


On-screen assistant
It’s possible to show/hide an on-screen assistant, which is more or less a ‘cheat sheet’ on the screen when somebody wants to look up certain characters.

The fastening
The fastening has been a major challenge. It has been going back and forth between multiple concepts. When a strap needs to be closed when putting on a device, this is not ok. A spring wire steel clip does the job of keeping the strap in place when the hand is out, making it possible to simply shove the hand in.


Adjustability
Hands exist in many different shapes and sizes, so many adjustments options are needed. The image shows how we are approaching this.
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It may very well be the case that additional adjustment options will be added over time.

Status

Several years I have been combining wearable keyboard R&D with a regular job. Since a few years now, I have been fulltime working on the development of a prototype and on more funding related distractions. With the highly appreciated help of a group of old colleagues, freelancers, trainees and volunteers.
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After many iterations, we are now approaching the point that there is a prototype that is market-ready. Still much to do and many 3D printing roundtrips needed before moving to a version that is based on molded parts. Industrialization is a major challenge, accurate hand tracking software, hand gesture software are also far from trivial.

Goal

Bring a fully working device to the market, which really works, performs fast, and doesn’t have much of a learning curve. At this moment, we target the ones that are willing to give it a go. We wish to grow our group of sympathizers and ambassadors prior to product release. In the long run, we want to be seen as a legitimate company in a new product category, that can also make legitimate claims about long term health effects.
We are actively looking for people that want to give feedback. Keyboard knowledge is great. Experience with medical conditions like e.g. RSI, osteoarthritis, higher spinal cord injury  is also welcome. (Whether as a patient or as a healthcare provider)

Vendor information

We are Netherlands based. You can find us here: www.typeware.tech. The web shop is the only place for pre-orders or to sign up for try outs.


So...what do you think?
« Last Edit: Mon, 18 December 2023, 08:43:52 by DonKeyShot »
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Offline DonKeyShot

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 9
  • Location: The Netherlands
  • Keyboard going handheld
    • The wearable keyboard and mouse
Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 26 November 2023, 18:09:00 »
The topic of a hand-held keyboard is far from new, see for instance the Twiddler and this classic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=sk7cjmYrKck&feature=youtu.be&t=7m50s
However, I think this is the world's first device that supports standard Querty without chords, and that is designed as a real keyboard+mouse alternative.
Ergoholic

Offline PrizeOcelot5911

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Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 27 November 2023, 03:16:29 »
interesting

Offline Typewarrior

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Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 29 November 2023, 08:39:31 »
Interesting concept! What kind of keys do you use? are these customizable?

Offline EdgeOfInfinity

  • Posts: 337
Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 29 November 2023, 19:04:50 »
dope project!

this post might fall more in line with the "Making Stuff Together" board however.
« Last Edit: Fri, 01 December 2023, 02:01:47 by EdgeOfInfinity »

Offline DonKeyShot

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Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 30 November 2023, 08:57:39 »
Interesting concept! What kind of keys do you use? are these customizable?

Hi Typewarrior, tnx!

We use Kailh keys. Kailh has a small footprint and offers 20g keys (you don't want heavy keys on a wearable keyboard). And they provide pcb-sockets, so in principle they are swappable. I couldn't find such low pressure Cherry keys, do they exist? Further, for all prototypes so far they ware swappable, but to go really slim we want to integrate the key with the housing. Then swapping would mean opening the key and make replacements inside. Would that be acceptable for you?
Ergoholic

Offline DonKeyShot

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  • Posts: 9
  • Location: The Netherlands
  • Keyboard going handheld
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Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 01 December 2023, 02:28:18 »
dope project!

this post might fall more in line with the "Making Stuff Together" board however.

Hi EdgeOfInfinity, tnx!
About the group to post in: I am interested in feedback, but indeed also open for help if people want to. For instance, I could use some help for a the Japanese keymap.
I just went for this group.
Ergoholic

Offline EdgeOfInfinity

  • Posts: 337
Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 01 December 2023, 12:21:47 »
no worries, just lettin ya kno before GH comes for you! lol

would love to see a video once a working proto is available. glwic!

Offline DonKeyShot

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 9
  • Location: The Netherlands
  • Keyboard going handheld
    • The wearable keyboard and mouse
Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 03 December 2023, 04:30:23 »
no worries, just lettin ya kno before GH comes for you! lol

would love to see a video once a working proto is available. glwic!

Hi EOI,

A movie is already possible. Have to undust the blue proto, do some repairs. It is difficult to show the device and what happens on the screen in a gproper way at the same time. I moght give ot a try  the coming weeks.
Ergoholic

Offline dvorcol

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Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #9 on: Sun, 03 December 2023, 09:12:08 »
Interesting concept! What kind of keys do you use? are these customizable?

Hi Typewarrior, tnx!

We use Kailh keys. Kailh has a small footprint and offers 20g keys (you don't want heavy keys on a wearable keyboard). And they provide pcb-sockets, so in principle they are swappable. I couldn't find such low pressure Cherry keys, do they exist? Further, for all prototypes so far they ware swappable, but to go really slim we want to integrate the key with the housing. Then swapping would mean opening the key and make replacements inside. Would that be acceptable for you?

Did you consider Cherry's MX ULP switch?  It appears to be thinner, but pins aren't in the picture so maybe it's surface mount.  And 65 cN force might be too high.
  https://www.cherrymx.de/en/cherry-mx/mx-ultra-low-profile/mx-ulp-click.html
  https://github.com/pashutk/Cherry_MX_ULP

Offline DonKeyShot

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  • Keyboard going handheld
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Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 04 December 2023, 05:42:01 »
Did you consider Cherry's MX ULP switch?  It appears to be thinner, but pins aren't in the picture so maybe it's surface mount.  And 65 cN force might be too high.
  https://www.cherrymx.de/en/cherry-mx/mx-ultra-low-profile/mx-ulp-click.html
  https://github.com/pashutk/Cherry_MX_ULP

Hi dvorcol, tnx.
We did consider ULP switches in general. But we do need some more travel. There is more play in the system than on a regular keyboard ('table' leans on hand tissue), and we would like the travel to remain relatively large i.r.t. play. That's why we are with the Kailh Low profile with 3mm travel now. We did consider the Cherry Low Profile (and still do). 3.2mm travel would be fine. Do you happen to know what distinguishes the Cherry Low Profile from the Kail Low Profile? In general, I read that Kailh may be 'less consistent'. We couldn't find Cherry Low Profile with only 20gram. But when they are significantly better, we would maybe just go for them and replace the spring. (if that doesn't increase the risk that keys hang in the pressed position) Another criterion for us is how well the key behaves when somebody is pressing the key a lot at the edge of the key rather than in the center.
Ergoholic

Offline gotin

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Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 04 December 2023, 07:14:22 »
Very interesting project!! I imagine I might feel a bit disconnected from my pc tho. Nevertheless keep up the amazing work!

Offline dvorcol

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Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #12 on: Tue, 05 December 2023, 11:00:10 »
Did you consider Cherry's MX ULP switch?  It appears to be thinner, but pins aren't in the picture so maybe it's surface mount.  And 65 cN force might be too high.
  https://www.cherrymx.de/en/cherry-mx/mx-ultra-low-profile/mx-ulp-click.html
  https://github.com/pashutk/Cherry_MX_ULP

Hi dvorcol, tnx.
We did consider ULP switches in general. But we do need some more travel. There is more play in the system than on a regular keyboard ('table' leans on hand tissue), and we would like the travel to remain relatively large i.r.t. play. That's why we are with the Kailh Low profile with 3mm travel now. We did consider the Cherry Low Profile (and still do). 3.2mm travel would be fine. Do you happen to know what distinguishes the Cherry Low Profile from the Kail Low Profile? In general, I read that Kailh may be 'less consistent'. We couldn't find Cherry Low Profile with only 20gram. But when they are significantly better, we would maybe just go for them and replace the spring. (if that doesn't increase the risk that keys hang in the pressed position) Another criterion for us is how well the key behaves when somebody is pressing the key a lot at the edge of the key rather than in the center.

I personally have no deep knowledge of switches.  The TypeMatrix 2030 I use when traveling has scissor switches, but I don't know if they are Cherry MX ULP.

Here are two low profile Geekhack threads if you haven't already seen them:
   Cherry MX Low Profile - Review / Specs / Compability - https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=108218.0
   [IC] Pitta60 (updated compatibility test) - https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=106970.0

As well as this from Deskthority - https://deskthority.net/wiki/File:Lpswitches.png

I find your work very interesting and will be following this thread. Best of luck!

Offline dvorcol

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Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #13 on: Tue, 05 December 2023, 19:24:55 »
The MX-style stem on Kailh Choc V2 switches might make them more stable than the original.

« Last Edit: Tue, 05 December 2023, 19:45:51 by dvorcol »

Offline DonKeyShot

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Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #14 on: Wed, 06 December 2023, 18:45:42 »
The MX-style stem on Kailh Choc V2 switches might make them more stable than the original.

Show Image


Hi Dvorcol, thanks for your enthusiasm and support!

If you would like to be one of the people doing early testing, you can sign up for that on the website (no guarantees though, it might matter a bit where you live. Do mention 'Dvorcol')
About the keys: indeed, I hadn't fully investigated the Kailh Low profile v2 and the Cherry Low profile, tnx for the link. I also found a good teardown of the Kailh v2 (https://keycapsss.com/switchestester/switches/125/kailh-low-profile-choc-v2-switches).  The conceptual differences seem very minimal. Kailh has the spring around a pin on the stem, while Cherry has the spring around a pin on the base. This could matter. Kailh uses a 'torsion spring' (why?). Both have sockets for hot-swapping (Kailh is actually providing pcb-sockets for the MX). What is the real difference? I guess general product quality (production quality) may make a difference then if anything.

And for both: I couldn't find 20gr keys out of the box.

« Last Edit: Thu, 07 December 2023, 02:48:36 by DonKeyShot »
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Offline JoltFX

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Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #15 on: Fri, 08 December 2023, 08:20:22 »
When is estimated shipment? I see it’s in preorder as 10% payment. As a physician I am very intrigued.

Offline DonKeyShot

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  • Location: The Netherlands
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Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #16 on: Sat, 09 December 2023, 16:44:58 »
When is estimated shipment? I see it’s in preorder as 10% payment. As a physician I am very intrigued.

End of 2024. When we don't make it in time, you have the right to claim a refund (we park deposits on a bank account).
Nice to hear you are intrigued by the way! Good to hear a physician is interested. Our interviews so far indicated that physicians often spend a lot of time in the lab rather than with a computer. (different for you?)
Ergoholic

Offline nahuel

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Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #17 on: Mon, 08 January 2024, 09:40:51 »
There is some video showing it in action (preferrable with high WPM :)) ?

Offline JoltFX

  • Posts: 109
Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #18 on: Tue, 09 January 2024, 04:03:10 »
When is estimated shipment? I see it’s in preorder as 10% payment. As a physician I am very intrigued.

End of 2024. When we don't make it in time, you have the right to claim a refund (we park deposits on a bank account).
Nice to hear you are intrigued by the way! Good to hear a physician is interested. Our interviews so far indicated that physicians often spend a lot of time in the lab rather than with a computer. (different for you?)
A lot of documentation for charting purposes and this could be quite useful.

Offline DonKeyShot

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  • Location: The Netherlands
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Re: [IC] a hand-held keyboard: keys at your finger tips, no chords
« Reply #19 on: Fri, 26 January 2024, 04:49:47 »
When is estimated shipment? I see it’s in preorder as 10% payment. As a physician I am very intrigued.

End of 2024. When we don't make it in time, you have the right to claim a refund (we park deposits on a bank account).
Nice to hear you are intrigued by the way! Good to hear a physician is interested. Our interviews so far indicated that physicians often spend a lot of time in the lab rather than with a computer. (different for you?)
A lot of documentation for charting purposes and this could be quite useful.
OK, thanks for the explanation, this is helpful.
Ergoholic