New Direction: VR

A project log for Keychange

The physical keyboard for virtual reality.

owen-truebloodOwen Trueblood 10/17/2014 at 22:131 Comment

In the four months since initially putting up my "Chord Keyboard" project on I've not done any physical work on it. Partially that's because of other projects and schoolwork, but mostly it's because I just haven't prioritized it. Chord keyboards have been built over and over since the dawn of computing (and even before then) but they've never caught on because the standard keyboards work well enough for most people. Every time I'd consider working on the project, I'd decide that my time was better spent working on things that lots of other people would find utility in.

But recently I was thinking about the project and had a breakthrough. I was trying to imagine an argument with some other person where my aim is to convince them to use my chording keyboard. The benefits that I see in the device were just not good enough to convince the other person to go through the effort of using my device over the existing standard solutions.

So my mind wandered to other contexts where the existing solutions might be worse off. And that's when I started considering chording keyboards in relation to virtual reality. It's an area of development that I've been following closely after trying out the Oculus Rift last year. In the time since that (really cool!) experience I have been exposed to lots of awesome virtual reality demos and the relayed experiences of friends who have interned at Oculus or played with modern virtual reality systems.

Taking all of that together, I am convinced that virtual reality is going to be a big deal sometime in the near future. And there's a little niche for me to carve out within it by developing a really good keyboard for virtual reality. If I succeed, then a much larger group of people will benefit from my work compared to if I had simply added another chording keyboard to the pile of attempts. And I can personally obtain all the benefits that I wanted when I started down this road.

So I'm going to put a lot of effort into designing this keyboard for virtual reality. To start it off, I'm acquiring ~$500 in funding from my school (the program is called TechX, for the curious). In exchange, I'll develop a polished prototype by the end of January and present it to fellow students and the representatives of many technology companies. Last year I did the same for a different project and ended up in a booth next to Oculus Rift. Hopefully that happens again this year...

Reflecting the changed direction and renewed vigor, I've removed the old project logs. They are archived here:


Paul_Beaudet wrote 10/21/2014 at 16:44 point
Refreshing to see this conversation play out in others. After all as much as we are infactuated with our ideas, ultimately they are only as important as the problems we solve with them. Look forward to seeing what you come up with!

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