RearType: A Back Keyboard for Tablets

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OK, right up front, I’m not so sure about the name, but these are scientists and engineers, not brand marketers, over there at Microsoft Research, so I’ll give them a pass. In any event, the “RearType” project is definitely an interesting idea, whether or not it makes it into mainstream consumer gadgets one day.

In a new whitepaper, researchers James Scott and Shahram Izadi describes an input system for tablet and slate computers which involves halving a QWERTY keyboard, rotating the keys and then sticking them to the back of the device.

The idea is that this would allow you to have that physical sensation of typing on a keyboard without having to sacrifice touchscreen landscape to do so. Studies showed that users could reach 15 WPM after one hour of training and one user even got up to 47 WPM in the same timeframe. The speeds are “not statistically different” than a touchscreen keyboard.

Is this brilliant or is it crazy? What do you think?

(via Engadget, ZDNet)

The Discussion

  • User profile image

    I had the exact same idea in mind since i heard abt tablets..
    but i imagined it somehow to be a touch keyboard that will adapt with the layout the user thinks letters should be hit..but still able to give the user a physical response when hitting the key
    obviously for me the answer is totally brilliant and this will be everywhere in less than 2 years I believe

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