A bright idea?

David emails me with a link to The Virtual Laser Keyboard, a nifty little device that projects a keyboard onto any surface so you can type data into your phone or PDA. As he puts it in his usual eloquent style:

Lasers are, by definition, cool.

He’s got a point: the virtual keyboard is a very clever, if rather expensive, gadget. However, I’m not convinced it’s a good idea.

As I’ve mentioned before, I suffer from Repetitive Strain Injury in my hands, wrists and forearms, which is a fancy way of saying that too much time on the computer has knackered my arms. And because of that, the Virtual Laser Keyboard is a really, really bad idea for me.

The problem is one of cushioning: part of my RSI is caused by the combination of very, very fast typing speeds and my tendency to hammer the keys with my big meaty fingers. I’ve found that some keyboards are better than others, so for example laptops don’t hurt as much as desktop keyboards do, and as a result I’ve got a laptop-style keyboard (a MacAlly IceKey) for everyday work. A desk doesn’t have any cushioning at all, and I can guarantee that within ten minutes of using a laser keyboard, I’d be in agony.

I don’t know about any warnings on the packaging, but certainly there’s no mention of RSI on the Virtual Laser Keyboard web site; it’d be nice if the manufacturers warned users that prolonged keyboard use can be a factor in RSI, and that hammering away on a hard surface increases that risk. Ultimately, though, it’s a fancy gadget rather than a keyboard replacement – but if you get one, make sure you don’t use it for long periods of time.

Update, 7.30pm

Now this is much more like it. [via MetaFilter]