Microsoft Research is showing off RearType, a tablet with a full QWERTY keyboard on the back of the device. The setup is designed to allow for easy typing when using a touchscreen device and is an interesting mix of split keyboards (which we're all familiar with) and rear-input methods.
We've seen rear input systems before. In fact, judging from patents filed by Apple and Samsung, it may not be long before we see an iPod Nano with a touch sensitive controls on the back, and a Samsung tablet with a second screen on the rear of the device. However, we haven't seen one quite like this before.
Microsoft Research has split the traditional QWERTY keyboard and rotated it so that when you grip the tablet and touch the buttons on the back, your fingers are still resting on the same keys as a traditional QWERTY.
Obviously, a device like this would take some getting used to, but Microsoft Research says that after an hour of practice using special training software, users got up to a speed of about 15 WPM, which is comparable to what users with a touchscreen can achieve.
Do you think this is a good solution to the fact that in these very touchy-feely times, many people are having trouble with onscreen keyboards, or missing the tactile feedback from buttons? Let us know in the comments below!