Washington: In yet another important step in the field of Information Technology, researchers have developed an inexpensive keyboard which is so tough, flexible and thin that it can be crumpled up and tucked in a pocket without damaging it.
Bendable portable keyboards for use with computers and other electronic devices are already in the market, but they have limited flexibility, and are fairly sizable when rolled up for transport.
However, Keemin Sohn, Ji Sik Kim, Kee-Sun Sohn and other fellow researchers including those from Sejong University from South Korea have developed a keyboard which could withstand the rigors of everyday life, including complete folding and harsh crumpling, according to American Chemical Society (ACS) Applied Materials and Interfaces journal.
"Our simple keyboard worked perfectly and outperformed all existing portable keypads in terms of functionality, flexibility, disposability and cost. In fact, each keyboard would cost only $1, cheap enough that it could be tossed out and replaced if it stopped working", the researchers claimed.
The researchers used a sheet of soft silicone rubber embedded with conductive carbon nanotubes that respond to the push of a finger by changing electrical resistance. To guide users where to press, the researchers drew squares on the surface of the sheet to represent keys for each letter, number or other character.
They also used an artificial neural network to teach the keyboard to identify the intended letter or character based on the location and pressure of pushes - and associated changes in resistance - on the keyboard.
On the other hand, existing keyboards incorporate either rigid push buttons inserted in a rollable sheet or a tactile sensor array patterned on a multilayered soft sheet. These devices require complicated fabrication processes, and because of their brittle components, can only withstand a slight amount of bending or rolling.
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