Transmutable Hardware Input Device

May 9, 2010

Does something like this exist?

It seems a bit bonkers to me that everyday objects like mobile/cell phones have little keyboards that work well in certain contexts (dialing a number), but often not in others (sending a text message, playing a game).

Similarly for games consoles – if you want to play a ‘beat em up’, you may want a very different configuration of buttons (more like the old 8-bit consoles) than if you’re playing a flight simulator.

Which is why I’m thinking about something like I’ve sketched above. This device/module would have an array of programmable buttons (square or rounded) underneath a rubberized, display-capable layer. This would probably use something like e-Ink, a low-power display that only requires power to update the display, and not to maintain it.

The array could then be configured/transformed to raise the appropriate buttons (which would be comfortably ‘rounded off’ in the raised position by the rubberized layer) depending on the context: want a keyboard? Bzzzz… Qwerty keyboard available. Want a Nintendo D-pad style controller? Bzzz…. there you go. Left-handed? No problem! Bzzz….

Impossible? Stupid? Already exists? Let me know!

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