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Virtual Laser Keyboard Now Shipping

The iBiz Laser Projection keyboard accessory for handhelds is now in stock and shipping. The unit attaches to a PDA and projects a virtual keyboard onto a flat surface.

The Virtual Keyboard (VKB) utilizes laser and infrared technology and projects a full-size keyboard onto any flat surface. As you type on the laser projection, it analyzes what you're typing by the coordinates of that location.

The device weighs two ounces and is similar in size to a disposable cigarette lighter. It includes a self-contained, user-replaceable rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery, which provides the Virtual Keyboard with its own internal power supply, so it doesn't drain any battery power from the PDA. The battery lasts three to four hours between charges. The company says the VKB works best in well-lit offices, it is not ideal for use outdoors in sunlight.

The VKB is compatible with the Palm Universal connector handhelds including m130, m500 Series, i705, Zire 71, Tungsten series (excludes E). It also works with the Treo 600, Sony NR, NZ, NX, SJ, SL, T, TG, TJ Series and PCs and Laptops running windows. It costs $99.99 USD from thee iBiz website.

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sweet

Fernando @ 5/3/2004 8:54:46 PM #
this is one of the best concepts i've ever heard of.... it takes away all the bulk of carying aruond a keyboard. I wonder how well it actually works though, i can't really see that it works well with touch typers :P... if only there was some place i could give this thing a try. Otherwise it sounds like a great piece of hardware...

Just for Trekkies
lobotomic @ 5/4/2004 5:06:55 AM #
This has to be one of the stupidest gadgets ever. I mean, what good is a full size keyboard if you cannot touch-type?

For hunt-and-peck typing, a thumb board would be way cheaper and faster. Also, it would not tax PDA batteries or have the user deal with yet another charger (one for the PDA, one for the cellphone, one for the bluetooth headset, one for the PDA keyboard ... one for the charger's charger's charger?

This proves again that just because technology makes something possible, it does not make it necessary, or even advantageous.

RE: sweet
Haber @ 5/4/2004 11:14:45 AM #
Without tactile feedback, will mashing your fingers into a flat, hard service by at all pleasant?

Pass
JonathanChoo @ 5/4/2004 1:42:38 PM #
Can't touch type, requires flat surface, can't use in sun etc. I rather manufacturers try to advance voice recognition on PDAs for those quick usage. For longer typing, I rather use a proper QWERTY keyboard.

--
Psion 5> Vx > m505 > N770C > T625C > NR70V > e310 > T/T > HP h2210 > T/T3 & h4150
StarTac 75 > T28m > T39m > T68m > T610 > T630
RE: sweet
ackmondual @ 5/5/2004 10:57:15 PM #
i suppose you >could< use beeps in place of tactile feedback. Hearing a 'blip' may be enough to let a user kno a key was successfullyu pressed. I for one am also concerned, but not too much about lack of "nubs" for the 'F' and 'J' keys found on typical QWERTY keyboards ('D' and 'K' for Macs). Then again, a keyboard like this doesn't give u any sense of touch to work with. I would appear to be all visual and audio feedbakc

[signature0]the secret to enjoying your job is to have a hobby that's even worse[/signature0]
[signature1]My PDAs: Visor --> Visor Neo (blue) --> Zire 71.... so ends the "marathon", for now[/signature1]

EXACTLY how?

abosco @ 5/3/2004 9:19:02 PM #
Exactly how does this thing connect to the PDA? Does it have the device connector in the back near the bottom? Does that mean the PDA has to be laid flat on the surface so you can't see it? Or is it standing up as you use the keyboard? It looks like a great idea, but there are so many things that can go wrong.

Why didn't they go for the full wireless deal? Go for an IR/BT connection.

-Bosco
NX80v + Wifi + BT + T616

RE: EXACTLY how?
Admin @ 5/3/2004 9:36:56 PM #
It attaches to the PDA via a cable. I don't see anything in the product info about it coming with a stand or prop.
RE: EXACTLY how?
phoneboy @ 5/3/2004 9:37:28 PM #
That's my question. If they released one with a Bluetooth interface, I could use it for my laptop and my Clie.

I'd also love to try it out before I buy one. I hope CompUSA picks it up.

RE: EXACTLY how?
Admin @ 5/3/2004 9:47:26 PM #
The cable that they use for this uses interchangeable connector tips, that is why it is compatible with so many different handhelds.

also, part of the iBiz press release talks about the order of availability: "orders will be filled in the following sequence, Analyst requests, customers with orders for devices that are currently on the compatibility list and finally our retail customers orders will be packaged and shipped from our facility over the next several weeks."

RE: EXACTLY how?
Altema @ 5/3/2004 10:28:03 PM #
"I don't see anything in the product info about it coming with a stand or prop."

Some device may be able to use the flip lid in a few situations. I know the T3 in landscape works in the perfect position when using the cover this way. I've not tried this keyboard, but that's what I do when watching long movies.

RE: EXACTLY how?
handsfree @ 5/4/2004 12:50:15 AM #
I'd like to see a review on this product. Having a keyboard like this would be cool.

But has it occured to you how weird it would be to type without any feedback from the keys? I'm still a skeptic.

RE: EXACTLY how?
Boogaboo @ 5/4/2004 7:37:50 AM #
Phoneboy wrote:

"That's my question. If they released one with a Bluetooth interface, I could use it for my laptop and my Clie."

Pardon me, maybe I am not understanding your comment. Why would you need a virtual keyboard for your laptop? Doesn't it already have a physical keyboard on it?

Boogaboo

RE: EXACTLY how?
hkklife @ 5/4/2004 11:17:07 AM #
I am sure iBiz and other peripheral manufacturers in similar positions are crying the blues right about now--introduce a big -time peripheral (for a company of their size) only to see the elmination of the Palm UC in favor of yet another connector. IIRC, Palm claimed that the introduction of the UC back in '01 was due to manufacturers of peripherals complaining about the lack of standardization for accessories across the lineup, making it difficult for them to pfofitably bring stuff to market in a timely manner. Here we go again!

Btw, think of all of the various Palm keyboards over the past few years that are dead in the water due to a lack of driver updates (Logitech roll-up keyboard) or inability to change connectors to accomodate new devices (Landware, that mini keyboard that connected via cable). I'd be hesitant to purchase ANYTHING not branded by Palm/ThinkOutside.

RE: EXACTLY how?
Token User @ 5/4/2004 11:53:13 AM #
I am sure iBiz and other peripheral manufacturers in similar positions are crying the blues right about now--introduce a big -time peripheral (for a company of their size) only to see the elmination of the Palm UC in favor of yet another connector.

You don't read do you?

While I agree that changing connector styles is a PITA for the peripheral manufacturers, iBiz have the right idea (as do other manufacturers) - build the device with a common cable, and supply adapter plugs for different devices. Belkin did it too - I use a USB hotsync cable on my Clie that has multiple adpter tips available.

Should manufacturers need to do this? No. Should there be an industry standard? Yes. Do smart manufacturers realise that there will never be a single standard and adapt their designs to a wider market? Absolutely.

~ "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed." - DV ~

RE: EXACTLY how?
phoneboy @ 5/4/2004 12:26:33 PM #
Boogaboo Wrote:

"Pardon me, maybe I am not understanding your comment. Why would you need a virtual keyboard for your laptop? Doesn't it already have a physical keyboard on it?"

Good question!

Well, I'm a very messy eater. When I'm eating a jelly doughnut, or BBQ ribs, I don't want to get stuff all over my laptop. I could tpye on my kitchen counter, and wipe the various sauces and fillings that were deposited by my fingers right off when I'm done.

I could type a letter on the garage floor in the middle of changing my oil.

I could do my taxes on the sidewalk while pulling weeds.

I could blog on this site in the middle of an open-heart surgery. (I hate getting blood on my laptop.)

A virtual mouse would be great, but for now I'll have to settle for a wireless optical mouse wrapped in cellophane.

The possibilites are endless. (I wonder if it would work under water...)

:)

RE: EXACTLY how?
abosco @ 5/4/2004 2:47:46 PM #
Hmm, I think Altema and Ryan got where I was going with this. The swappable connector idea is phenominal, don't get me wrong. But with an accessory like this, you need to either have something to prop the device up to LOOK at the text as you're typing, or have wireless freedom to dock it anywhere you want while it's still in Bluetooth range. Depending on how long the cord is, your options are limited to hoping your device is either a clamshell or has a flipcover that's strong enough to prop it up.

-Bosco
NX80v + Wifi + BT + T616
RE: EXACTLY how?
hkklife @ 5/4/2004 2:54:47 PM #
Sigh...

The Universal Connector standard was not just the usb/serial connector on the bottom of Palms. It also called for the little notches in the back of the unit to securely attach a case or a sled peripheral such as a modem or the power to go battery. It would be very nifty to have something that attached in this manner so that the Palm could be propped up securely when typing. When Palm saw fit to abandon the UC part of the bottom plug, they could have retained the rear holes in the case or implemented smaller notches in order to make things like easier (or a Power to Go 2.0 sled) in the future.

As I mentioned in my post, add-on keyboards that use only a cable to connect are dead in the water. Perhaps iBiz could seize the opportunity and offer a couple of cheap plastic "stands" to accomodate a variety of handheld formfactors?

Still, despite the intrigue of this gadget, I'm going to take a pass unless I can pick one up very cheaply and/or I can try one out somehow before buying it (unlikely, as it's hard enough to find a working PDA in a retail environment these days).

RE: EXACTLY how?
handsfree @ 5/5/2004 1:31:51 AM #
Phoneboy wrote:

"That's my question. If they released one with a Bluetooth interface, I could use it for my laptop and my Clie."

Pardon me, maybe I am not understanding your comment. Why would you need a virtual keyboard for your laptop? Doesn't it already have a physical keyboard on it?

Boogaboo

Answer: To look cool! Most people will buy this keyboard becase it's damn cool. Besides if he's going to use it with a Clie it's not like it's a total waste... I guess it would also be cool to have some kind of cool keyboard that you can interchange between laptop PDA and what happens if it could be used for cell phones (text messaging) and Treo's... Whatever I'm talking too much...

RE: EXACTLY how?
ackmondual @ 5/5/2004 10:55:04 PM #
[i]That's my question. If they released one with a Bluetooth interface, I could use it for my laptop and my Clie. [/i]

Another reason i can think of is that some laptops, supposedly the 12" display kinds 'll have cramped keyboards. If this thing is full sized, then all the more comfort and usuability (minus the tactile feedback of course)

[signature0]the secret to enjoying your job is to have a hobby that's even worse[/signature0]
[signature1]My PDAs: Visor --> Visor Neo (blue) --> Zire 71.... so ends the "marathon", for now[/signature1]

RE: EXACTLY how?
;-(( @ 5/5/2004 11:07:15 PM #
the secret to enjoying your job is to have a hobby that's even worse
My PDAs: Visor --> Visor Neo (blue) --> Zire 71.... so ends the "marathon", for now

Try < and caps...

Freedom of speech, baby. Gotta love it,

Bologna Alert goes off

Timothy Rapson @ 5/3/2004 9:16:40 PM #
This story seems awfully premature and its source kinda' fishy. There are lots of opportunities on the iBiz site to order and pay, but not so many showing the product or pointing to independent sites where you can read how well it works.

In fact, there is no picture at all of how this is supposed to hook up to my Zire 71, how much battery life it gets or any of the standard things a good consumer needs to know before laying out hard-earned money.

I am waiting for a real review from a real user (preferably my fav-- Julie at Gadgeteer..... or second fav-- Mike Cane here!) before I even consider this.

RE: Bologna Alert goes off
phoneboy @ 5/3/2004 9:48:24 PM #
Do you mean to say that you don't think this device exists, or just that it doesn't work that well? What part are you saying is the bologna?

RE: Bologna Alert goes off
Timothy Rapson @ 5/4/2004 7:19:41 AM #
I am saying both. It must be a real product at some stage as there are people who have played with the demo prototype at technology shows.

But, those prototypes are not always worth anything when it comes to real life. There are a lot of potholes along the road that leads from idea/prototype to good usable product. I am not ready to be the initial user who gets stuck paying $99 for something that either does not ship with the right connector I need for a year or does not really work unless you set it on a mirror-like surface or something. I want to hear about a real person using this for a week and being happy with it before I send in money. The way they are not even saying when end users will actually get their product makes me think the product is not nearly as real as they want us to think it is.

RE: Bologna Alert goes off
thomaslb @ 5/4/2004 1:09:31 PM #
Not sure what THIS is about but the thing has been in CompUSA here in Florida for 3 weeks. I didn't buy it because I agree with the negative posts---this thing is ridiculous. Maybe when the put a projector right ON the PDA without exponentially increasing the size/weight of the unit.

*It is not much smaller than a PPK and in the package at least it isn't lighter. Screw that.


VKB demo at CES

Admin @ 5/3/2004 9:27:51 PM #
I had a chance at the CES 2004 show to test this out. The emitter hooks up to your handheld via a cable. I assume you'll need something to prop up your handheld when you use this. The demo version they had setup at CES was attached to a desktop computer and large monitor. The biggest problem I had with it was accuracy, while it was not a final product at the time, it had a hard time registering my keystrokes properly.

Here is a picture of the demo:
http://www.palminfocenter.com/ss.asp?f=ces_vkb.jpg

-Ryan

RE: VKB demo at CES
sford @ 5/4/2004 5:08:48 PM #
Perfect! That kinda pic was just what I wanted.

I agree with all the other comments about how this wouldn't do me any good as I am a touch typist.

I also agree that it would be more intriguing if it were software that could project out of the Palm itself. :)

Pilot Pro -> III -> IIIe -> Nino (yeah...oops!) -> IIIc -> VIIx -> m505 -> NR70V -> NX60 -> T3

Sell your home FAST!
www.NoStressHomeSales.com

RE: VKB demo at CES
palmhiker @ 5/5/2004 10:43:42 AM #
The brains of this thing is a heck of a lot larger than a disposable cig. lighter. Is that photo representative of the size of the final product?

hmmm

RhinoSteve @ 5/4/2004 12:33:43 AM #
Wondering where this one will go. Definately a solution looking for a problem. We will see.


RE: hmmm
markgm @ 5/4/2004 8:43:03 AM #
That's an interesting way of looking at it. I too can't think of a time when I would want to use this, but can come up with a few reasons if I were trying to sell it! I'd be curious to try this out at a store, but I don't think I'd need to add it to my inventory of gadgets.

RE: hmmm
Flame_On @ 5/5/2004 9:10:20 PM #
get another cup of coffee... and clue in.

This is going to go into everything in the next 2 years; smartphones, stillborn PDAs, Desktop monitors, desktop shuttle cases, etc.
In the next generation the projector/detector will be improved/refined, and there will be a software option to project custom keyboard configurations onto a surface.
This gadget has been covered in PC and hardware magazine for more than a year (co-worker showed me this in some rag called CPU magazine 2 years ago).

Yah, ya know what, it'll be while before this means something to mobile users, aka battery drain issues when integrated, bulk as a carry around.
This is going to be all the rage at f***ing LAN partys. News anchors desks/ talk shows anyone who needs discreet communication in public view.


--

RE: hmmm
ozz @ 5/6/2004 12:23:46 AM #
<>

This would be the LAST device to use for "discreet communication", at least in public. If this is used in public, there will be a "gee whizzy" factor that will draw people all around like ants to sugar.


_________________________
Lord, help me become the person my dog thinks I am!

RE: aaaaah
;-(( @ 5/6/2004 12:47:22 AM #
that will draw people all around like ants to sugar.


Or flies to shi*.

Freedom of speech, baby. Gotta love it,

I jist git mime tidaay

;-o @ 5/4/2004 3:51:18 AM #
Wirkzz greay!

RE: I jist git mime tidaay
lobotomic @ 5/4/2004 5:19:49 AM #
HA HA HA! That's a good one!

MiniUSB

JKingGrim @ 5/4/2004 5:26:40 PM #
Is there a reason why there is not MiniUSB version for devices like the E and 72? Did they just decide not to, or was there a problem? Does it have anything to do with the PDA being a host or not? If the MiniUSB on the 72, E ect. is not a host, does that mean you won't be able to use peripherals on it?

RE: MiniUSB
ganoe @ 5/4/2004 9:39:48 PM #
1. yes
2. problem
3. yes
4. exactly right
RE: MiniUSB
hkklife @ 5/5/2004 9:24:40 AM #
I think these "issues" merit further discussion by the more technically minded on this site. This could seriously dash everyone's hopes for portable HDs, etc to work in tandem with newer/upcoming Palms (even with proper OS & driver support!) Hopefully BT will keep migrating down to the cheaper models and this will be (relatively) moot point. Still, there is a nice amount of BT-enabled PDAs and cell phones out in the USA by now. I still cannot find any BT accessories on a retail level (where most purchases like this are made) save a Microsoft keyboard/mouse combo and a few headsets.

RE: MiniUSB
cbowers @ 5/5/2004 11:44:54 AM #
Yep, that's the whole problem with miniusb on PalmOne devices. It's near useless for any accessory. And it's a shame since most X-scale processors have support for USB host. And it's *why* the universal connector is still so useful. Those that constantly say "no one uses rs-232 serial anymore, good riddance UC", don't know what they're talking about. Nearly every PalmOne sled (modems, WiFi, etc), uses the serial pins on the UC, because there's no host mode support on the USB pins.

There is an exception. For example there's a GPS available for mini-usb toting Palm's. The GPS's feature set requires a full ARM processor, and *it* supports host mode USB. Likely the iGo pitch is the same, it's got an Intel i386 processor in it. Now does it make sense to anyone that because of the lack of host mode support on PalmOne mini-usb, that there should also be keyboards, and modems, etc, with ARM processors in them with host mode support? Just seems to me there's something wrong when your accessory needs to have as much CPU muscle as your PDA. Never mind paying for the duplication...

RE: MiniUSB
Galaxyhunter1 @ 5/5/2004 12:30:09 PM #
If Palm went with the Mini USB instead of serial. I would think/hope that they would be comming out with some add on peripherals. It would also be prudent and nice if they would announce the new future products so as to not lead the public into usless discussions about poor development. Or am I so naive as to think that they would be innovative instead of regressive?

Obsession Telescope Owner & hoping to connect to GOTO system... with they're PDA's some day.

Deciding if I should buy a T3

RE: MiniUSB
ganoe @ 5/5/2004 1:50:46 PM #
I wouldn't say that it is innovative vs. regressive. They're just using the most cost effective solution for the problem. That problem being a fast sync solution with the PC. The fact that providing only a non-host USB port makes the addition of hardware peripherals unlikely, is apparently a non-issue to PalmOne.

So at least for the time being, if you want to connect a keyboard, mass storage, etc. to your Palm via the mini-USB port, your best solution is this dongle I call a "laptop".

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