One-handed keyboards. Split keyboards. Folding keyboards. So many alternatives to the qwerty keyboard. "It's the problem everyone has been [fighting] for 135 years. How do we get rid of this thing?" says Linda Marroquin, founder and CEO of Houston-based FrogPad, which offers a portable one-handed keyboard.
The Dvorak keyboardwas created in the 1930s, and it was designed to have letters in different places for speedier, more efficient typing. It's easy to reprogram your computer to give it a try.
But the rise of a mobile work force is behind an even greater range of options. Finding keyboards to work with smartphones and PDAs is a challenge for on-the-go professionals. Those seeking a portable alternative to tiny or foldable qwerty keyboards are looking to options like the Bluetooth version of FrogPad.
Device manufacturer Canestais shipping components for a keyboard made out of beams of light. Expect products using the technology to be available in early 2005. Verdict? The qwerty keyboard is in no danger of extinction, but the alternatives will find their niches as mobile devices get smaller and the need for portable data entry grows.