Inventor Jason Giddings believes it’s time for computers peripherals to grow to the next level, and he hopes to achieve this with his new multi-touch keyboard and mouse, made from tempered glass suspended over a metal base.
The problem with current computer peripherals, according to Giddings, is they “really serve to slow down the progress of creativity by only allowing every person the same tools to communicate their intent.”
Some people add pen tablets and other tools to their inventory, but “That takes up a lot of desktop and all could be done with one tool,” Giddings said via e-mail.
Giddings is President and CEO of Giddings Product Development. His team is in the process of developing the first batch of his new Multi-Touch Keyboard and Mouse, amid an ongoing, and highly successful campaign through fundraising website Kickstarter.
The keyboard and mouse setup is unique. They both have multi-touch features the user can customize to fit their own way of working. Although they come with plastic sheets marked for different keys and functions, users can also create their own by printing them out or ordering them online.
“Gamers will be able to set up buttons or sliders that are specific to their game. Artists can manipulate images much like the way you manipulate images on an iPad. Gestures can be recognized so you are no longer limited to just keystrokes,” Giddings said.
They keyboard keys are illuminated internally by a light that can be turned on or off, or customized. Users can even assign custom sounds so their tapping on the glass can sound like a traditional keyboard, a typewriter, or anything they’d like.
Being a strong believer in pushing the boundaries of technology, Giddings is also sharing his technology with the world, by making its internal systems open source—allowing anyone to download, alter, and use it free of charge. “Every part of the design has versatility in mind. A keyboard this versatile really must have open source software,” he said.
He explains this decision on his Kickstarter page, stating “I believe in order to realize the true potential of a multi-touch keyboard and mouse we are going to need everyone’s great ideas! Imagine a mouse that can select objects and zoom like an iPad or rotate puzzle parts while moving them to position, or a keyboard that can toggle from a standard keyboard to a tool to smear separate areas of color for each finger on an image.”
Inspiration for the tools came from Giddings’s own love of sci-fi films. He said movies like “The Matrix,” “Tron,” and “Avatar,” had a big part in this.
Then, close to a year ago, he had the chance to present to a company his own ideas of what the future of peripherals wold look like. He made a basic sketch, but at the time “I had no idea how to make it work I just thought it would be cool.”
Time passed, until a couple months ago when he saw a video presentation of Frustrated Total Internal Reflection (FTIR) technology. While watching this, “it occurred to me that this was the way to make the keyboard work!” Giddings said.
The FTIR keyboard and mouse work by shining infrared LEDs into the edges of their glass tops. The light bounces up and down inside the glass, and when someone touches it, the light at that particular spot shines downward through the glass, which is picked up by a camera at the base. Software then translates the location of the light into a computer command—which can be customized.
The technology is so simple, Giddings says he’s surprised it hasn’t been done already—it’s basically just using light, glass, a camera, and software to translate commands.
He hinted at future designs using FTIR, noting “The Multi-Touch Keyboard idea is really the first phase of several ideas that came out of that initial brainstorming session. There will be more to come but I can’t talk about them just yet.”
(Images courtesy of Giddings Product Development)