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Video CES: Another Chording Keyboard Hits the Market (Video) 101

Wayne Rasanen's Decatxt chording keyboard may be new and exciting to him, and he says has a patent on it so apparently the USPTO found it novel and original, but it's not the first chording keyboard by many long shots. The idea has been around (at least) since 1968. And let's not forget Braille chording keyboards, as described in a 1992 IEEE paper. And if you have an iPhone and want to experiment with a virtual Braille chording keyboard, there's an app for that. Maybe we're just jaded. Or maybe we've known a lot of blind people who used one-handed Braille chording keyboards to type as fast with one hand as a sighted person using a QWERTY keyboard and two hands. So it's hard for us to get excited about a chording keyboard. Be that as it may, we wish Wayne Rasanen all the luck in the world as he brings his invention to market.

Timothy Lord: Wayne Rasanen is not an engineer nor an interface designer, at least he didn’t use to be. But when he was sick of being an awkward typer, he did what anyone would do really and he invented his own chording keyboard, even before he knew what a chording keyboard was. Now he has got a patent on his own design and he got a few different versions of it. He gave me a small tour of his keyboard which has 10 keys so he calls it the Decatxt.

Wayne Rasanen: Hi, my name is Wayne Rasanen. I am the inventor of the in10did Decatxt.

Timothy Lord: Okay. And what is that?

Wayne Rasanen: This is a keyboard. This replaces the entire QWERTY keyboard. It replaces over 100 key strokes with one hand.

Timothy Lord: Okay. Now how does it do that, give some examples?

Wayne Rasanen: Well, basically it’s a simple press, hold one button and press another and you’ve got 100 combinations with 10 keys. So very short simple chords.

Timothy Lord: So, you can do this with one hand?

Wayne Rasanen: Yes, basically hold it against yourself and I’ll just go through the alphabet real quick.

Timothy Lord: Sure.

Wayne Rasanen: So it’s just ABCDEFGHIJ, hold one thumb; read through the red letters KLMNOPQR; move to the blue, STUVWXYZ.

Timothy Lord: How fast can you type on this?

Wayne Rasanen: Basically not being a real coordinator person, I’m 15 to 20 words a minute.

Timothy Lord: Okay. If you could do it per second that will be great.

Wayne Rasanen: Yeah, exactly.

Timothy Lord: All right. Now this is a USB interface?

Wayne Rasanen: USB interface and we’re just rolling out the Bluetooth.

Timothy Lord: About what will it sell for?

Wayne Rasanen: $100 for the Bluetooth and $69 for the USB.

Timothy Lord: And the USB version, that’s already available now, is that right?

Wayne Rasanen: We’ve had the USB out for a little while. We sold some and we pulled it back little bit, because we wanted to get ready for the show and didn’t want to have to worry about too much else, but we’re going to be rolling them both out again.

Timothy Lord: All right. How did you come up with this idea?

Wayne Rasanen: Well, I was not really a very good typer and lacking simple coordination hitting multiple keys. I thought, well wouldn’t it be nice if I could type and I didn’t have to move my hands. And I thought, well, if you’ve got 10 fingers with two opposable thumbs and there is 26 letters in the alphabet, so a single press for the first 10 letters, hold one thumb for 8, hold the other thumb for 8, 8 and 8 is 16 plus 10 is 26, it just worked out perfectly. I thought, well, somebody must have come up with that before, but I looked all over the place and couldn’t find it. So basically put together all the rest of the key strokes and went and filed for a patent application.

Timothy Lord: Now does this take care of all the keys on a conventional PC keyboard then?

Wayne Rasanen: It takes care of every key stroke on a conventional keyboard.

Timothy Lord: Okay. So, the fact that it’s USB means it’s pretty universal, the one that’s out now?

Wayne Rasanen: It plugs in and works immediately with PCs, Mac, Linux. It works with Xbox, works with PlayStation, works with the Wii, anything we plugged it in USB.

Timothy Lord: If you wouldn’t mind, would you mind holding up that other, your player, your controller there?

Wayne Rasanen: Sure. This was a concept that we came with, we call this the Textskin, it was just a wraparound skin that you can put on your Xbox 360 controller and give you the entire keyboard. And we felt that the application for this was to help move MMORPGs on to the consoles.

Timothy Lord: Cool. So, any other products that we should look for from you?

Wayne Rasanen: Well, one of the other applications that we see is really kind of controversial as we put it on the steering wheel. And the idea of having it on the steering wheel is that, with the keys on the wheel you’re never looking at a keyboard. Your fingers are always on the wheel and then you have a heads up display, so your eyes stay on the road. And we feel that’s a much safer way to go and probably the application is more for police, military, fire rescue, people that are already using a laptop but rather than reaching over here or reaching for buttons, keep their hands on the wheel.

Timothy Lord: Great. Anything else I should know about it? Anything else I should know?

Wayne Rasanen: Well, we think that there is lots of different applications for gamers just having the entire keyboard in one hand and a mouse in the other, gives an complete access to every keystroke without having to look to where their fingers have to go. So, we also see it as a sister technology device for people that have had a stroke or ALS where they don’t have the large motor skills but they’ve got some fine motor skills, or blind, people that are in need, we see that as being a definitely a beneficial product for them.

Timothy Lord: Now, you demonstrated for me earlier something that I’d like to see again is, typing with two hands, using a telephone basically as your base?

Wayne Rasanen: Well, that was another thing that we are looking at is, combining it with the back of a phone so that you would be able to type on the back of the phone rather than having to poke at the front. And the neat thing about that is when you do have an error or the predictive text gives you the wrong word, rather than having to backspace over it all, you can just use the cursor keys which are severely lacking on most such screens.

Timothy Lord: Absolutely. All right, thanks very much.

Wayne Rasanen: My pleasure.

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CES: Another Chording Keyboard Hits the Market (Video)

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