Microsoft Shows Tablet With 'RearType Keyboard'

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!

(via CrunchGear)

  • dman3k
    what? and I thought M$ is championing voice recognition.
  • In true MS fashion, the tagline for this would be something like "Use your fingers on your rear today!"...
  • stingstang
    Over complicating a simple problem. Besides, the guy in the picture is holding it wrong.
  • ZaKa
    Can't rotate the tablet.
  • haunted one
    These days, companies are just creating as many different products as possible without giving sufficient thought to their potential use, market niche and actual usability. Using this device would be very uncomfortable. Gripping with my thumb and typing on the back with my fingers? Keyboard + screen = netbook. There's no need for this.
  • Supertrek32
    15 WPM. And are these people touch typists on regular keyboards? That's kinda of a big factor.
  • nforce4max
    This will fail....
  • drutort
    it might work im sure they wont have such big and ugly keys on the back... and nobody yet knows how it feels while typing might be better off with a touch sensitive with maybe a little response at press would work...

    still though would take some time to get used to
  • serkol
    Is this a joke?
  • joex444
    As long as we're making hidden keyboards, why not go with dvorak?