While KBtalKing USA didn’t have a booth at CES 2013, we did manage to get a badge last minute and check out all the latest and greatest electronics, including some cool input devices.
The first booth that grabbed our attention was by a company named Celluon (cell-u-on, kinda sounds like cellular?). The technology on display basically uses laser projection to display a virtual keyboard on flat surface and a combination of optical sensor and Infared technology to pick up finger movements to register typing.
They had two units on demo, which really are two variations of the same gadget. The Magic Cube is a standalone unit about the size of a half stick of butter, and the Prodigy comes in the form of an iPhone 4 case with the projection and sensing mechanisms built into it and also incorporates a battery pack to extend the battery life of the iphone.
Here’s a footage of the Prodigy being tested at the booth:
As much as we like the coolness factor of a laser projection virtual keyboard, at the price point of $199 we had to consider the benefits it actually brings to the table. When someone considers an external keyboard for a mobile device, two things come into mind–portability and ease of typing.
Portability: Both the Magic Cube and the Prodigy are fairly portable, with the Magic Cube sized similar to half a stick of butter/margarine and the Prodigy in the package of a slightly bulkier iPhone 4 case.
Easy of typing: Any external keyboard makes typing documents easier than typing on small touchscreens on a smart phone. The Celluon gadgets are no exception.
Considerations: However, with a laser projected virtual keyboard, you are essentially getting a bigger touch, virtual keyboard in lieu of a small one. While it is easier to type on due to the larger size, it cannot compare with a physical keyboard that you can touch and feel.
Verdict: All in all, this is a cool product with a lot of potential. For those of us who want the cool factor a laser projection keyboard, this may well be worth the $199.
But for those of us who prefer physical keyboards, especially mechanical keyboards, we might just opt for a much cheaper $25 Bluetooth roll-up silicone keyboard simply for the fact that it’s a physical keyboard you can feel, and it has most of the portability as well.
What do you guys think?