A chorded keyboard prototype that may make safe texting while driving a possibility was developed by an Australian man inspired by helicopters and motorcycles.
Second Lieutenant James Edge-Williams from Rockhampton, who is just wrapping up the fourth year of an engineering degree at the Australian Defence Academy, is an avid motorbike rider and owner of a Honda Super Sports CBR 600 RR that he has spun out to 240km/h on the race track.
The 32-year-old sees motorbikes as an obvious application for a one-handed keyboard that does not require the user to look at a screen. Helicopters, which are flown on a central pitch control lever known as a "collective" are another.
"Chorded" technology works on the same principle as a musician who uses a combination of fingers to play a specific chord on a piano or a flute.
The device, which relies on tactile feedback to the operator to let them known they have keyed the correct combination of buttons to create the right letter, could also be fitted to the steering wheel of a motor car.
Edge-Williams said that there was also potential to create communications aids for the handicapped, including blind people and those with limited use of their hands and fingers.
This prototype offers tactile feedback, can be connected to a wide range of existing electronic devices and has the potential to incorporate Blue Tooth connectivity.
He said while chorded keyboard apps for smart phones were available as internet downloads their functionality was limited.
"Touchscreen apps offer no tactile feedback," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted him as saying.
"Without looking you can't tell where your fingers are," he added.