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Will Touch Screens Kill the Keyboard?

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the really-cold-really-dead-fingers dept.

Android 332

CWmike writes "Next-generation touch-screen devices will embed more haptics, or touch-based feedback, into virtual keyboards. 'A lot of companies are really getting into haptics, [using] source feedback and a sense of touch to try to replicate a keyboard on a display,' says Bruce Gant, a mechanical engineer at Product Development Technologies, which integrates touch screens into cell phones and other devices for manufacturers. 'If people really get that down and nail that experience, [virtual keyboards] could replace mechanical keyboards on laptops.' Don't tell that to Motorola, which just introduced the Atrix 4G, and dual-core 4.3-inch smartphone that docks to a laptop with, you guessed it, a physical keyboard."

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No (5, Insightful)

TheL0ser (1955440) | about 4 years ago | (#34782072)

Keyboard is a lot cheaper, more easily repaired if something goes wrong.

Re:No (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782148)

Keyboard is a lot cheaper, more easily repaired if something goes wrong.

Yeah, but at least touchpads are more reliable. I had to type this out using the my windows assessibility suite because my keyboard is in the shop again. :(

Re:No (5, Funny)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 4 years ago | (#34782318)

My Model M [wikipedia.org] has never failed me.

Except that one time when it only caused an ugly bump, rather than kill my opponent. I mostly blame my aim for that.

Re:No (2)

Bigbutt (65939) | about 4 years ago | (#34782488)

Me either and I have two.

The Mac keyboard on my MacBook Pro is a bit annoying in that I have to keep my nails trimmed down to nothing in order to accurately touch type. Even with a 16th inch long nail overhang on my ring finger, I find I tap the laptop and not the key. I keep my left hand trimmed anyway due to guitar playing so it's not a hardship. Still it's annoying.


Re:No (3, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 4 years ago | (#34782860)

For the record, I just ordered a Mattias Tactile Pro 3 keyboard [matias.ca] because the Apple "chiclet" keyboard on my Mac pro is so appallingly bad - no physical or audible feedback, mushy feel, unreliable rollover / missed keys / extra keys. This is for my desktop; I suffer with the awfulness on my Macbook pro.

The TTP3 has Alps mechanical switches, basically unlimited rollover, and key legends that won't wear off, at least according to them (laser etched.) It's my xmas present to myself.

The idea that a touch screen could take over -- and mind you, I'm really into my iPad -- is no less than ridiculous. The "keyboard" on an iPad is meant to cover you in very rare instances. It's not usable long term or in a serious manner. People who type for a living, or simply a lot... they can't be moved to a touch screen. Not even remotely viable.

Re:No (2)

RJHelms (1554807) | about 4 years ago | (#34782732)

How expensive is your keyboard, that you send it to the shop?

I have only used two types of keyboards: those that are so cheap you replace them when they break, and those that never break.

Re:No (2)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | about 4 years ago | (#34782738)

Try playing a FPS on a touch pad sometime. Even beyond the "I don't need to be looking down at the keyboard when someone has an RPG pointed at my head," I'm sure we've all whacked the spacebar a little more violently than necessary when the game is tense.

For that reason alone, I expect keyboards in one form or another to be around for awhile.

Also, I defy anyone to make a touch interface that I can type 100wpm on, without looking at the virtual keyboard. The tactile keys give the fingers the clues they need to remain in the right spot when you're typing from handwritten notes. Swype is great, but I think the record for swyping is something like 60wpm. Doesn't sound like much of a difference, but tell that to a medical transcriptionist who gets paid by the page.

Re:No (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 years ago | (#34782158)

Add to that, the best device for avoiding RSI has a large amount of travel and a gradual resistance in the keys. A touchscreen has no travel and a very sudden resistance. Try spending five hours typing on one and see how much your fingers hurt.

They're fine for consumer devices (i.e. devices for consuming), but not for devices people use to create anything involving text.

Re:No (5, Insightful)

I8TheWorm (645702) | about 4 years ago | (#34782296)


You simply can't type on a touchscreen without looking, at least not for any usable amount of time. I love my Galaxy-S with the Swype keyboard, but even that is no replacement for a physical one.

Re:No (4, Insightful)

skids (119237) | about 4 years ago | (#34782586)

I just don't understand how anyone could do any serious typing on the same screen they are looking at. Sure, causual keying in google search terms is easy that way, but when the screen is at an angle suitable for viewing there's no way I could bend my wrists back far enough to type efficiently -- and even in a compromise between the two positions, I'm sure it would kill my hands. I suppose I could put the screen flat down and lean over it, but only if I want to look like Quasimodo in a decade or so.

Plus my fingernails tend to be kept long (unlike many I actually use them in my job) so I doubt a touchscreen would stand up to my abuse very long.

Re:No (1)

Senes (928228) | about 4 years ago | (#34782656)

There's more to it than that. You're not supposed to hold your hand in front of your face and make fine movements for long periods of time. You're supposed to have your elbows pointed mostly downward with your wrists mostly parallel to the floor; the further up you lift them the more you're going to injure yourself with repetitive usage of fine motor skills.

Re:No (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | about 4 years ago | (#34782878)

Add to that, the best device for avoiding RSI has a large amount of travel and a gradual resistance in the keys. A touchscreen has no travel and a very sudden resistance. Try spending five hours typing on one and see how much your fingers hurt.

I imagine the experience there would not be too different than trying to type in a lengthy BASIC program on an old Timex-Sinclair 1000 with its membrane keyboard (which was one of the reasons I am thankful that my parents, when they shopped for a computer for me back in the 80s, only very briefly considered the TS-1000 and instead went with the TI-99/4a).

Re:No (1)

stms (1132653) | about 4 years ago | (#34782914)

Add to that addition that they're just plain easier to type on. Ever try to type on an old style type writer?

Re:No (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 years ago | (#34782188)

Keyboard is a lot cheaper, more easily repaired if something goes wrong.

So are crayons, that doesn't mean we don't have nice pens.

Re:No (2)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 years ago | (#34782350)

I don't write with a crayon or pen for ten hours a day. I don't get keyboard cramp, but I have had writer's cramp in college just from doing equations a notebook for a few hours. brutal.

Re:No (5, Insightful)

KermodeBear (738243) | about 4 years ago | (#34782220)

It also keeps my finger smudges out of my line of sight. I hate touch screen anything. They always end up dirty.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782222)

Not just that. We need buttons.

They are in instruments, they are in joysticks, they are in keyboards.
We need to know when something is being pressed; sound fails to do that when it's too low or the person can't hear; visual can't replace that because of reflections and visual impairment.

I really like touchscreen stuff, but I don't see myself yet working 100% with touchscreen keyboards.

Re:No (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about 4 years ago | (#34782298)

Plus I can still read the screen if I use a keyboard with greasy fingers. Good luck to any parent who tries to use a touchscreen shared by their kids.

Re:No (2)

Kitkoan (1719118) | about 4 years ago | (#34782410)

Good luck to any parent who tries to use a touchscreen shared by their kids.

Was thinking that myself. Toddlers and young children are well know to want to bang on things. Imagine a child banging the mouse on the touchscreen. Shattered glass, while it is most likely to stay in the frame and not hurt the child, it's still a very broken keyboard then.

Re:No (1)

Jake Griffin (1153451) | about 4 years ago | (#34782904)

What mouse? It's touchscreen...

Re:No (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 4 years ago | (#34782682)

Won't always be the case. A touch screen is pretty simple device that can be manufactured as a single component. A keyboard has lots of fiddly parts.

Re:No (1)

trollertron3000 (1940942) | about 4 years ago | (#34782756)

Also, I need tactile feedback. I can't imagine using a touch screen exclusively.

haptics? (1)

PatPending (953482) | about 4 years ago | (#34782074)

"haptics" is an anagram [wordsmith.org] for "Caps Hit"

Re:haptics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782132)

And 'Scat Hip'.

This is why it should be avoided.

Re:haptics? (1)

PatPending (953482) | about 4 years ago | (#34782152)

Er, "Hit Caps". (Fuckin' Cap Shit!)

Re:haptics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782236)

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Haptics? Who invented that? Who the fuck invented that? Who's the slimy little communist shit, twinkle-toed cocksucker down here who just signed his own death warrant? Nobody, huh? The fairy fucking godmother invented it. Out-fucking-standing! I will PT you all until you fucking die! I'll PT you until your assholes are sucking buttermilk!

Re:haptics? (4, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 years ago | (#34782800)

"haptics" is an anagram [wordsmith.org] for "Caps Hit"

And Shit Cap. :-P

Answer: no. (5, Insightful)

Senes (928228) | about 4 years ago | (#34782078)

Big media: quit saying "XYZ is dead" every time you're starved for attention.

No matter how good a smartphone gets, that doesn't mean that old technology people still benefit from should suddenly disappear. My phone has a built-in keyboard; I can text so fast it startles people and any flashy features my phone doesn't have would be all the better with it. Give us more functionality, not tell us we should settle for less.

Re:Answer: no. (1)

drunkennewfiemidget (712572) | about 4 years ago | (#34782186)

This pretty much sums up my thoughts; thanks.

I can get up to 180wpm on my standard keyboard. I'd be surprised if I break 40wpm even on a good day on swype or any other touch screen keyboard.

I think people forget touchscreen is old (3, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 4 years ago | (#34782540)

Touch screens have been around for a long, LONG time. There are various places where they are used quite a bit too. Point of sale terminals often use touch screens, and have for a long time. They are useful in some situations, but not generally useful. The reason is because having a touch screen involves having your hands on your screen. This means you occlude part of your view, and of course in a desk environment means that either you are stretching your arms up, which is uncomfortable, or you are hunched over a display.

The keyboard and mouse endure because for a sitting working environment, they are generally what you want. I want to be able to easily enter text while looking at a display that is in front of my face at a comfortable level.

Basically touchscreens will be used where they make sense. This can be in things like phones where space is a premium, and you want as big a screen as you can get, or in specialty applications. However they are not going to be the be-all, end-all.

Re:I think people forget touchscreen is old (2)

peragrin (659227) | about 4 years ago | (#34782742)

Exactly. the Keyboard isn't going anywhere(Mice might fade slowly for tracpads, but that is also a debate).

Keyboards enter raw data very very quickly. However not everything needs quick data/ large quantities of data to be entered for those Keyboards will stick around.

Mice well they work well for some things track pads work better for others, some form of mouse will always be available along side the keyboard, As reaching up to click on the screen doesn't work so well.

Re:Answer: no. (3, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 4 years ago | (#34782704)

Big media: quit saying "XYZ is dead" every time you're starved for attention.

Are breathless claims that some ubiquitous technology is dead dead? We spread a short article over twenty pages for you to find out!

Re:Answer: no. (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 4 years ago | (#34782766)

Big media: quit saying "XYZ is dead" every time you're starved for attention.

Big media is dead!

I'm so lonely. :-(

No. (1)

enec (1922548) | about 4 years ago | (#34782080)

Tactile feedback rocks. Touch screen can't replicate that very well. I don't know of anyone who can accurately touch-type on a touch screen (heh, see what I did there?).

Re:No. (1)

deKernel (65640) | about 4 years ago | (#34782286)

The "tactile feedback" was the very first thing that came to my mind when I saw the headline. Touch screens have their place (cell phones as an example), but I just don't see keyboards going anywhere soon for anybody that uses their computer 8 hours a day.

Still hanging on dearly to my IBM Model M... (2, Interesting)

sleekware (1109351) | about 4 years ago | (#34782084)

And I will only let go of it when they pry it from my cold dead hands!

Re:Still hanging on dearly to my IBM Model M... (1)

mswhippingboy (754599) | about 4 years ago | (#34782214)

But... how can you possibly get along without the "Windows key"????

Serioulsy though, I used to love that keyboard, but my wife made me give it up because she got tired of hearing the clickity-clack all night when I was pulling all-nighters.

Re:Still hanging on dearly to my IBM Model M... (1)

sleekware (1109351) | about 4 years ago | (#34782308)

But... how can you possibly get along without the "Windows key"????

I get along fine without a 'Windows Key', but if the 'Windows Key' is a must, there are these available from Unicomp: http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/customizer.html [yahoo.net]

Re:Still hanging on dearly to my IBM Model M... (1)

laron (102608) | about 4 years ago | (#34782610)

You could map the caps lock key as windows key for example. In fact, I'm using a Model M, just had this idea and found a solution.
http://mattshaw.org/news/window-map-caps-lock-to-windows-key/ [mattshaw.org]

Re:Still hanging on dearly to my IBM Model M... (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 4 years ago | (#34782720)

I need the Window key since it's the option key in OS X.

Re:Still hanging on dearly to my IBM Model M... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782784)

That sound keeping her up all night wasn't the sound of a keyboard. Booyah!

Re:Still hanging on dearly to my IBM Model M... (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | about 4 years ago | (#34782300)

Yes! I can imagine that better haptics might actually replace physical keyboards for general consumption just like membrane / scissor keyboards replaced mechanical keyswitches.

But the real enthusiasts, heavy typers and power users are still going to want real mechanical switches like they alway have done.

[Typing this on a Maltron 3D keyboard with Cherry MX black keys; my IBM Model M is at work, my Model F (like the M - but even more so) is sitting handily next to me.]

Re:Still hanging on dearly to my IBM Model M... (1)

metrometro (1092237) | about 4 years ago | (#34782562)

Curious: How do you bridge from the old school 5 pin DIN to USB? Do you have to go to PS/2 then to USB? Or is there a more direct method?

I just dug out the keyboard from my IBM Personal Computer for this purpose, but haven't tinkered with it yet.

Re:Still hanging on dearly to my IBM Model M... (1)

Orgasmatron (8103) | about 4 years ago | (#34782700)

You need a USB to PS/2 adapter that provides enough power to run the beast, about an eighth of a watt. Some cheap USB adapters are unable to source that much current since a typical modern keyboard only takes a milliwatt or two.

http://www.clickykeyboards.com/index.cfm/fa/items.main/parentcat/11298/subcatid/0/id/124184 [clickykeyboards.com]

They have more information, and apparently sell one for about $20 that is known to work. Also on that page are links to projects in case you want to integrate the USB control or learn to reprogram the microcontroller inside the keyboard to speak USB.

Re:Still hanging on dearly to my IBM Model M... (1)

mswhippingboy (754599) | about 4 years ago | (#34782814)

The model M keyboard has a Ps/2 connector. Sounds like your referring to the earlier PC/AT keyboard which had the 5-pin DIN connector.

wasteful (1)

emkyooess (1551693) | about 4 years ago | (#34782090)

It seems like it'd be awfully wasteful to build a touch screen to replace a keyboard, both in terms of money and actual resources. Keyboards are fairly cheap on both.

Plus -- ergonomics?

Hell No (2)

pantherace (165052) | about 4 years ago | (#34782096)

Seriously, try using a touchscreen for more than a text message. Use a bunch of on screen keyboard variants. Swype, android, apple, and any other one you care to try.

You'll be happy when you are back to a machine that has a real keyboard. Even a mobile with a real keyboard.

Re:Hell No (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 4 years ago | (#34782614)

i don't have a hard time typing on the ipad. in fact i don't find it that difficult to touch type on it. my fingers know where they are supposed to be. I'm no where near as fast as i am with a physical keyboard but i find it far more usable than i ever thought i would. longish emails and slashdot posts are not an issue for me. Writing code is, but that generally requires a lot of arcane punctuation that just isn't right there on the ipad keyboard. When the symbols do come up, they are not in their standard qwerty locations. It takes a while to locate something, and the curly bracket, the staple of my trade, is buried 3 levels deep.

Aside from layout, I think the biggest problem stems from having to hover over it. if more than one finger happens to come in contact with the surface, the results are unpredictable. i don't know if haptics are nearly as essential as some kind of velocity gathered with the touch. Something that would let the device know that just because you were touching asdf and y, you meant to enter y because that touch had some impact.

Sure, just remember the gorilla arm (3, Insightful)

gilgongo (57446) | about 4 years ago | (#34782098)

Keyboard ON the screen == bad: http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/G/gorilla-arm.html [catb.org]

Keyboard away from the screen and horizontal, no problem. But then, what's the point in virtualizing it?

Re:Sure, just remember the gorilla arm (1)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | about 4 years ago | (#34782180)

Don't forget, a virtual keyboard just means you only have half of the screen to actually view stuff.

Re:Sure, just remember the gorilla arm (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 4 years ago | (#34782616)

That's interesting, but I don't know if it applies... touchscreen in a handheld device has very different ergos than a touchscreen in a conventional desktop configuration, with the screen up in front of you.

Seems unlikely (2)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 4 years ago | (#34782102)

MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft require the kind of precision and sensory feedback that only standard keyboards can provide.

Re:Seems unlikely (1)

mattgoldey (753976) | about 4 years ago | (#34782650)

Right.... how else will Death Knights be able to faceroll?

It's easier (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782110)

One keyboard for everyone, no matter which language you use. A new layout is a simple software change. Custom layouts depending on the tasks.

Would I want to code on one of these things? That's another story...

Doubt it. (1)

Kitkoan (1719118) | about 4 years ago | (#34782116)

Part of the thing about a real keyboard is the feel of the keys. Not the feedback but the raised buttons themselves. Without them many people are left to hunt-n-peck typing since they can't feel the keys brush their fingertips (also think of the little notch on your F and J keys, used for the same thing). Remove the ability to feel the keys without looking and many people won't touch it and businesses won't use it because I gather WPM typing will go down and error typing will go up.

The Bad Keyboard Trend Continues (4, Insightful)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | about 4 years ago | (#34782130)

If touchscreens do kill the keyboard (and I am very doubtful), then it'll just be another milestone for the trend of crappier and crappier keyboard input devices. Back in the day, the mechanical switch and the buckler keyboards were fantastic. They had the weight, they had the tactile response, they had the satisfying click you get when you press down a key, plus they were nigh indestructible. Then, everyone moved to the quiet keyboards that use the rubber sheet and the dielectric, and it had less of a tactical response. Then people started moving towards those awful chiclet keyboards (are they called Island keyboards?) and they make it so frustrating to type something. If touchscreens take over, it'll just be the next logical step towards crappier keyboards.

Re:The Bad Keyboard Trend Continues (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 4 years ago | (#34782238)

Oh, I kinda like the quiet keyboards.

But yeah, we'll keep seeing a frustrating trend to fewer moving parts.

On the bright side, a generation of T9 txtspk didn't kill the keyboard.

On the dark side, accuracy with touchscreen keyboards is so bad, that I think it will just drive up the adoption of speech-to-text recognition, because it won't be so bad in comparison :-P

"Silly computer! I SAID, 'I want a bottle in front of me!' NOT 'a frontal lobotomy!'"

Re:The Bad Keyboard Trend Continues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782898)

Back in the day, the mechanical switch and the buckler keyboards were fantastic. They had the weight, they had the tactile response, they had the satisfying click you get when you press down a key, plus they were nigh indestructible.

Luckily, there are still some mechanical keyboards available. I'm typing on a daskeyboard [daskeyboard.com] right now, and it has everything a good mechanical keyboard needs to have - tactile response, wonderful clicky sound, N-key rollover on PS/2. I haven't tested whether it is indestructible, but it seems to be pretty robust (and heavy).

Mechanical keyboards have become niche products and are expensive, but IMHO they are worth the money for someone who has to type a lot of text.

Which is cheaper? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 4 years ago | (#34782136)

Which is les expensive, a keyboard or display space? I want a keyboard. How will taking away some of the display space in order to provide me with a keyboard on the display improve my experience using a device? So in order to give the same display experience as a device that comes with a traditional keyboard, you need to have that much more display. That means the device that gives me the same display experience with just a touchscreen needs to cost more than a device with a traditional keyboard.

No (4, Insightful)

Umuri (897961) | about 4 years ago | (#34782144)

Touch keyboards cannot keep speed with physical keyboards due to a lack of tactile feedback, space requirements, and hand-strain when typing due to jamming your finger into a solid surface repeatedly (guess its not much different than laptop crappy keyboards, but still). That's assuming you've overcome the software limitation of slow processing that plagues most touch keyboards.

That being said, they will probably replace keyboards for applications(such as mobile phones) where a keyboard would be a waste and inefficient use of space while not being very effective anyway.

But in a laptop? God no unless you're going for lightweight style rather than a useful work space.

Disclaimer: Typed on my model-m.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782224)

Model-M forever!!!

Re:No (1)

izomiac (815208) | about 4 years ago | (#34782796)

Touch keyboards perhaps, but who says you need to emulate a physical keyboard? Some of the predictive text entry systems are pretty good (50 wpm on a tiny screen), and with touch screen smart phones only growing in popularity I am sure they'll only get better.

Swyped on my Droid X

Re:No (1)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | about 4 years ago | (#34782838)

Exactly. This quote from the article seems deeply misguided:

Similarly, Hsu continues, "There's a perception among the older generations that grew up on keyboards that we would miss a keyboard. But as newer generations are raised on devices that have a gesture-based interface they just won't care," he says.

There are times when the "older generation" clings to outdated technology for nostalgic reasons, while the youngsters move on to the better tech (e.g. MP3 players replacing CDs). However that's not the case with keyboards, because physical keyboards have distinct advantages over virtual keyboards, and new generations of consumers are going to notice that! (Gesture interfaces are great for some things, but we're still going to want to write text in this brave new future, and to do that the keyboard is still king.)

As you pointed out, there will be devices for which a virtual keyboard makes more sense. And I have no doubt that manufacturers will keep improving those keyboards so that they close the gap with physical keyboards (using vibration-response and deformation of the screen to provide haptic cues are good ideas). But in any situation where you can afford to have a real keyboard (and I mean "afford" in the "have enough space" sense), people will prefer to have one.

What I do hope to see, however, is a convergence of the capabilities of both. This is what I see happening: virtual/touchscreen keyboards add features to be more 'physical-like' (vibration response to give some haptic cues, elastic displays that have a bit of 'give' so that you can feel the tap/click, deformable displays that reconfigure so that you can feel ridges for key edges, etc.) Meantime physical keyboards might start becoming more advanced (they are too expensive right now, but there are keyboards with built-in displays (the Optimus keyboard [artlebedev.com] ), and some that have variable-pressure sensors, etc.). We will likely reach a day where the current split between 'simple physical keyboard' and 'flat virtual keyboard on touchscreen' won't be the two options. Instead we'll have 'dynamically reconfigurable keyboards with deep key-press response' for desktops and laptops and 'dynamically reconfigurable keyboards with shallow key-press response' for tablets and smartphones.

No (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 4 years ago | (#34782146)

Do I even really need to argue why? How would it feel even remotely close? How well will you feel what you touch or even more important that you're hitting the right key?

Since black look like trash:
* Microsoft Ergonomic 4000 [microsoft.com]
* Unicomp SpaceSaver 104/105 [yahoo.net]

Shitty quality of the first one but nicest typing experience so far. Don't really know if I want a straight keyboard any more. Not nice for the wrists.

"Product Development Technologies" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782160)

What an absolutely empty rhetoric bullshit buzzword company name.

Also, no. Touchscreens will not replace keyboards for anything other than tablet devices. People keep thinking that computer displays will go touch-sensitive and replace keyboards - have these people ever tried a touch-sensitive computer display? It's so unergonomic and clumsy it hurts just thinking about it.

No. People still type. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782162)

What a dumb question, I'm sorry.

Re:No. People still type. (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | about 4 years ago | (#34782486)

There's no such thing as a dumb question. But the dumb answer to this question is "Yes".

Nope (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 4 years ago | (#34782166)

Input devices and displays have long been shown to work best in different positions. Nobody wants to stare down at a display all day, or stretch forward to touch their screen all day.

Touch screens are nice for certain situations, but they won't replace keyboards in general.

Obvious (1)

DaFallus (805248) | about 4 years ago | (#34782172)

Yes, in the same way that masturbating has replaced actual sex with another (living/willing/etc) person. You would prefer one, but will settle for the other when you have to, or if no one is looking.

Keyboards for the win (1)

mikes.song (830361) | about 4 years ago | (#34782204)

Personally, I hate typing on touch screens. I doubt they can replicate the experience of a keyboard. I want to be able to type with two hands, without looking at the keys, while able to see the full screen.

Also, get off my lawn.

What? (1)

Grapplebeam (1892878) | about 4 years ago | (#34782208)

How am I supposed to play video games if my hands have to be on the screen? These things are meat-paws! I can hardly hit the tiny keys already!

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782402)

The vertical screen isn't the one you'll be touching. You'll be using a horizontal keyboard that has a screen instead of actual buttons. In your case, you might benefit from buttons that can be made larger on the fly. While in the learning stages of a new game, no longer would a window pop up telling you that you have to press "w" to move forward, the button would just say "move forward".

Sure, if you hate your wrists (1)

glwtta (532858) | about 4 years ago | (#34782232)

It's not about feedback, no matter how much it vibrates (or buzzes, or whatever) typing on a flat surface is an ergonomic nightmare.

Touch screens have been around for a long time. (1)

Kenja (541830) | about 4 years ago | (#34782262)

and yet I still seem to have a keyboard. So.... no.

iPhone and iPad (4, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | about 4 years ago | (#34782274)

If there's anything Apple have taught us, it's that an awful lot of people don't do any real work on their computers.

For those who do, real computers with real I/O devices will remain.

Re:iPhone and iPad (0)

hockpatooie (312212) | about 4 years ago | (#34782604)

Amen. The productivity-killing chiclet keyboard disease is spreading from Apple and infecting laptops and even desktop keyboards everywhere. Does nobody realize there was a *reason* key caps have been concave for the past, oh, 100 years? As you said, if they don't do any real work, they don't notice.

For sure not my keyboard (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about 4 years ago | (#34782320)

'Cos I hate it when a can't type on my Unicomp Spacesaver keyboard. :p

How to defeat a touchscreen fanboi (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | about 4 years ago | (#34782334)

Ask him to touch type without looking.

As for the mouse, that's still not beaten by touch. Touch input doesn't scale. A mouse can select a single pixel or fly right accross the screen, have several buttons and scroll wheels are indespensible.

It concerns me there's going to be a generation of kids coming that are not going to be able to keyboard, handwrite because they will be touchscreen, game controller and voice interface users.

Re:How to defeat a touchscreen fanboi (1)

slimak (593319) | about 4 years ago | (#34782770)

I agree that writing and typing a good skills today and I really had using touchscreens and the tiny keyboards on mobile devices, but we have to adapt. We used to record history on stone or clay using hieroglyphs, I'm really glad that fad passed. I sincerely hope that a few hundred years from know our descendants will think of us as Neanderthals that had to didn't even had neural implants (or something even more amazing that I am too primitive to even dream of).

Re:How to defeat a touchscreen fanboi (0)

daemonhunter (968210) | about 4 years ago | (#34782788)

It concerns me there's going to be a generation of kids coming that are not going to be able to keyboard, handwrite because they will be touchscreen, game controller and voice interface users.

It concerns me that there's going to be a generation of kids that can't ride a horse or lead a wagon because they will be automobile users.

Depends on the timing... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#34782336)

The main push for touchscreen keyboards seems to be in applications where there is contention for screen space(and niche applications where a keyboard would be difficult to keep clean or unvandalized).

That pretty much means phones, handhelds, and maybe laptops(for laptops, you run into the problem that the comfortable position for a keyboard and the comfortable position for a screen are quite different, and switching between the two will take a disruptive several seconds...)

For anything without such contention, the idea that dirt-cheap and tactilely excellent physical keyswitches are going to be replaced by touch panels just so that the world can look more futuristic seems unlikely at best. Possibly, hard key labels will be replaced, in certain applications, with little screens, for application specific keymap/shortcut changes; but that is still a mechanical keyboard.

The real question determining the future of touchscreen "keyboards", to my mind, is whether haptics and such similar trickery advance faster than do technological alternatives that simply eliminate the screen-size contention. You have been able to get for some years, for instance, glasses with displays in them. Unfortunately, current models suffer from low resolution and making you look like a giant dork. However, with easy-to-imagine incremental improvements, you could get something that just looks like an ordinary pair of glasses/sunglasses; but can paint pixels on your eyes small enough that they aren't perceptible as pixels. If that became cheap, your phone could be 100% keyboard. Same thing would apply for various hypothetical microprojectors/folding screens/wireless display panels/etc/etc.

For whatever reason, the first wave of attempts to resolve the screen/keyboard space contention issue attacked the keyboard rather than the screen; but there is no reason, in principle, why you could not instead attack the screen in favor of a larger, clickier, nicer keyboard. We'll see whose tech develops faster...

Why SWYPE won't replace the keyboard soon (1)

katz (36161) | about 4 years ago | (#34782356)

Keyboards provide instant response, per letter, whereas SWYPE's blue trace line only gives you some vague sense of where you fat-fingered that errant letter; to boot, at the end of it all, SWYPE presents you with a teeny-tiny-spaced list of possible matches, requiring me to waste yet more time attempting to avoid fat-fingering a selection. I had hoped that this would be the great panacea it had been hyped up to be. What a waste of time.

Why can't we have both? (1)

conner_bw (120497) | about 4 years ago | (#34782380)

Why can't have a laptop with a touchscreen. Why does one need to replace the other, instead of compliment each other?

Oh right, because computers are for people with deep wallets who type with their thumbs, not the people who have been using them up until now.

Re:Why can't we have both? (3, Funny)

I8TheWorm (645702) | about 4 years ago | (#34782588)

I thought it was because Steve Jobs told people that's what they wanted.

keyboards (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | about 4 years ago | (#34782412)

Touch screen keyboards will be just as popular as the "touch screen" keyboards.. like the one in the movie 'Big'

Going backwards... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782438)

Why anyone would be excited about going back to the days of the timex sinclair is beyond anything I am capable of understanding.

People can take their death to desktops, death to keyboard, mice and every other truely useful comodity that meme starters dislike today and shove it as far as I'm concerned.

If you want to replace existing technology... hint hint... you need to come up with something BETTER or you will be ignored.

I can predict the outcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782444)

Real Keyboards:

* Allow you to type faster
* Are cheaper and easier to replace
* Are better for reducing injury rates due to the extra key travel
* Don't take any of your on-screen real estate
* Provide more tactile feedback

That's how I know that touch screens will win over physical keyboards. Keyboards will lose because they are better. That's always how it goes.

Keyboards... (2)

khr (708262) | about 4 years ago | (#34782538)

Scotty: "how quaint"

Chuttle (1)

ODSMonkay (884440) | about 4 years ago | (#34782544)

As an IT Admin for a financial institution I can't help but wonder what these things would look like after a week of use by end users considering the amount of chuttle I have to shake out of the keyboards every time someone quits or gets fired.

Can't believe how miserable so many nerds are. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782560)

This is goddamn star trek happening for real, and every nerd on this site wants to live in the stone age. We get it. You're comfortable on your model-m's. Stop bitching every time something new or different comes up. Stick to it but don't hijack every post to tell the rest of us we're doing it wrong. Just... just don't post if all you're going to do is bitch. And fuck the first person to call me a hypocrite, I've said nothing for too long. /rant

True portable computing (1)

vanyel (28049) | about 4 years ago | (#34782582)

The most interesting part of this is the Atrix. I can see a near future where you carry your computer around as your phone and it runs a mobile desktop on the local screen and a separate full desktop on the external screen. I still want a slider keyboard though ;-)

Silly day at Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782592)

Did magnetic pole shift kill the birds? Will touch screens kill the keyboard? Seriously?

Left bottom side of my keyboard ... (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 4 years ago | (#34782646)

this is where i orientate my hands. apparently, unconsciously. so i discovered. its an a4 tech keyboard model that i have been using for years. (while renewing the model by purchasing the exact same model when the other one broke). i just found out that, the same model keyboard, but a slightly different (square instead of round edges) casing could throw my orientation and hence typing speed off. the very same model keyboard. i also tried other keyboards, but physical height of keys, their spacing, their placement, seems to have settled quite a lot with me.

so, no. touchscreens wont be able to do that. because, hands are physical stuff, and if you dont want to look at the keyboard while typing, you will have to keep on feeling what is under your hand. and that requires physicality.

Steve Jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782694)

It all depends on whether Steve Jobs TELLS us that we don't need real keyboards. Then and only then will we know the answer to this question.

Re:Steve Jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782816)

Steve Jobs cannot take the sky from me!

No, but they will kill the non-touch screen screen (1)

RonVNX (55322) | about 4 years ago | (#34782754)

The screen you can't touch is about the only thing seriously threatened by touch screens. And for some cases the pointing device (mouse/trackpad/etc.)

Thanks for my daily hyperbolic tech news dose (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 4 years ago | (#34782794)

Here's my pitch for tomorrow: Will raping puppies help system administrators focus better during 12-hour shifts?

new keyboard revolution isn't here yet (1)

jappleng (1805148) | about 4 years ago | (#34782798)

Touchscreens are for a different use and will never be used to replace the keyboard. What will eventually replace the keyboard on a daily basis (but not entirely) will be brain interactions with the computer. This may take another 20-years before we get pretty good at it but it's happening and it's been over 10-years since the first person controlling a mouse on a screen has been created. Maybe one day it'll be similar to ghost in the shell, but bringing it back to my original point, touchscreens cannot be more practical than physical keyboards and thus will never replace them.

Probably not. (1)

billsayswow (1681722) | about 4 years ago | (#34782868)

I highly doubt touch screens will ever replace the keyboards for desktops or laptops. Due to ergonomic reasons, the touch-keyboards would still have to be on a separate plane than the screen you're looking at. Imagine your computer's monitor having a touch-screen keyboard, bend your wrists and hands into a position that you could actually type with. Hold that position for an extended period of time. Weep tears as your wrists hate you.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34782884)

Only if they finally invent a touchscreen that recognizes what i want to type, not what i actually type.

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