One of the benefits of technological improvement where electronic digital computers are concerned is that, as they’ve become more sophisticated, they’ve also become smaller and therefore more portable. You couldn’t have boarded a plane with one of the early computers, which was basically the size of a room. Today, you can pop your laptop or tablet into a small carrying case and off you go. Even your phone is a powerful computer and it fits into your pocket.
Just as our personal computing devices have gotten smaller, more manageable, and more portable, so has the peripheral equipment we use with them. That isn’t always ideal, at least not in the instance of keyboards. Typing quickly on a keyboard the size of a pack of gum is hardly the ideal for someone who needs to input a lot of text. Rather than dragging along a keyboard to whatever destination you’ve just jetted off to, there’s a cool alternative: A laser keyboard. It’s a keyboard that’s not really there, so you don’t have to leave space for it in your carry-on bag.
The second generation of RoboPeak’s laser keyboard, the V2, is half the size of the first version at just around 4 ½” tall. While you can’t purchase the V2 laser keyboard already assembled, you can assemble it yourself using the Laser Keyboard Kit, which includes a 3D printed framework that comes in three separate pieces and must be connected according to instructions. The entire kit costs $49.50 and can be purchased through online vendor DFRobot. The kit includes:
- 3D Printed Camera Frame
- 3D Printed Laser Keyboard Projector Frame
- 3D Printed Power Board Mounting Base
- Camera (driver free)
- Laser keyboard v2 power board
- Linear laser module
- Laser Keyboard Projector
- M2x8 self-tapping screws (10)
- M2x12 self-tapping screws (3)
- Cable for camera
- Micro USB Cable
The V2 keyboard works something like this: The image of a keyboard rather than a real keyboard is projected onto a surface. There are four main steps involved in the projection using three modules: The projection module, the sensor module, and the illumination module. When you touch the surface onto which the image is being projected, the device records the corresponding keystrokes. At the core of this technology are a diffractive optical element, a red laser diode, and a CMOS (Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensor chip.
Aside from the portability of the QWERTY V2 keyboard, which can be used with Macs or PCs, there aren’t many other benefits as the cost compares to that of a decent wireless keyboard. You can spill your coffee on this keyboard and it’s not a disaster, which may be the biggest benefit of all. Also, we just think it has great visual appeal and, as it incorporates 3D printing, we don’t think you can lose with this device.
Would you use a device like this? Let us know what you think about this portable, virtual keyboard in the 3D printed Laser Keyboard forum thread at 3DPB.com.
DIY a Low Cost Laser Projection Keyboard from Shikai Chen on Vimeo.
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