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Back-lit Keyboards

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
What do you think, is Apple going to introduce them? They could easily draw enough power off the USB port, and I recall reading an article a year+ ago about something to do with Apple and licensing some sort of indiglo technology? i cant remember. anyway, most artists, well myself atleast, prefer to work with the lights off and the light from your monitor isnt enough to see the keys most the time, it seems natural right?

Oooor, does anyone know a good way to make a back-lit keyboard?
post #2 of 36
Remember old radium watches? They had ladies who had radium paint and hairbrushes who delicated coated each appropriate surface with glowing yumminess. And to keep the hair taut, they licked them straight. Now, most of those who haven't died from the horrible mouth and throat cancers are suing their former companies.

So radium glow is out - customers would like to keep their fingers.

A nice green LED underneath each key would be nice. Wouldn't draw too much power, either.
post #3 of 36
Ah, yes, the legacy of Jason O'Grady. I think it's not happening any time soon, not even the glow-in-the-dark variety. Not unless it becomes more, uh, stylish looking.
post #4 of 36
What's the stuff in those indiglo watches? Is that dangerous too? Anyway, particularly with the iBook's white keys, I think that the LCD would probably provide enough light to light the keyboard. iBook owners?
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post #5 of 36
Well, IBM makes a ThinkPad with a lit keyboard. They have this ad they show rarely at 2 or 3 in the morning with leon talking about it in the dark with the notebook on, the other guy turns on the light and leon is in pajamas. Anyways, from what I could tell, there was this tiny light on the screen/lid, right below the lcd, that bathed the keyboard with a dim but workable white light. It's *very* cool looking.

[ 11-21-2001: Message edited by: Nebrie ]</p>
post #6 of 36
[quote]Originally posted by Nebrie:
<strong>Anyways, from what I could tell, there was this tiny light on the screen/lid, right below the lcd, that bathed the keyboard with a dim but workable white light. It's *very* cool looking.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

So why doesn't Apple have something like that?
post #7 of 36
I think that Apple would be wise to introduce a backlit keyboard. And it could be done with newer LEDs that have multiple colors in it. Also it wouldn't be hard to get it to where the computer told the keyboard which set of keys gets which color. Like five sets: Arrow Keys, Function Keys, Modifier Keys, Letters, and Number pad. What is your take on this idea??

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post #8 of 36
It would be an extremely expensive keyboard, but why not have something like a watch display at the top of each key (indiglo back-lit)? I think it would be great if the letters/symbols on the keys changed depending on your keyboard layout. Furthermore, it could do the same for when modifier keys are pressed on the fly. A programming interface for this function could be supplied and games could put better symbols on the keyboard when you play them. Switching apps could change the keyboard.
Switching mode/function in an app could change the keyboard.

I'm thinking something like the keyboard control panel does, but built so any app can show you on the real physical keyboard, what any key will actually do.

Potential problems:
- cost (if every Mac had one, it may bump the entry level Mac's price up -- optional extra would be only way to do it but then you lose savings in numbers that you have when forcing it on all new customers)
- power consumption?
- reliability (complex key board may be more prone to failing -- look at some of Microsofts fancy keyboards)
- demand

Other benefits:
- New feature that might have more people consider the Mac

What do you think?
post #9 of 36
glow in the dark keys!
post #10 of 36
cdhostage: That is a neat story about radium. I remember hearing that when radium was first discovered, people thought it was a fountain of youth agent.

That was before exposed folk started dropping like flies.

Regarding the use of LEDs, there are several complications. 1) a LED array of 78 LEDS would put off some warmth and consume enough juice to effect battery time. 2) LEDs tend to be too thick to place in the sliver thin keyboard on the powerbooks. Remember, the key needs to be able to depress fully.

Using glow in the dark paint could also be a problem, since the paint could come off.

Creating the keys out of glow in the dark plastics would result in a whitish-green keyboard... not too attractive.

For any kind of flourescent paint/plastic to work, the keyboard needs to be exposed to light... A keyboard on a closed powerbook doesn't get much light.

From what I hear, indiglo also consumes a fair bit of energy. It adds to the already complex wiring on the keyboard and would be a significant engineering endeavour.

A compromise from an engineer's perspective would be to replace the plastic back panel (it's a very thin sheet) with a plastic that is clear with fiberoptic properties, and shine the light in from the side(s).
post #11 of 36
My dad has that IBM laptop with the small light above teh LCD. Its pretty neat but more of a novelty that anything else. It would look very weird on a Powerbook. Oh and the IBM thinkpads suck.
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post #12 of 36
Thread Starter 
yah, you could perhaps change in the keyboard control panel wether its on/off, rather then having a toggle switch on it. maybe have some options, perhaps a billy jean effect? the keys light up as you touch them, that way you can sort of check down and make sure your on the correct one.

or, every single key wouldnt have to be lit individualy. you could have a track of light that runs around the outside of the home keys, the keys being plastic would disperse enough light to see the whole thing, then another strip of light around the f, arrow and number pad and whatever the 6 key block above the arrows is called also, arent those strip lights varaible, in the keyboard control you could maybe control the brightness of it, like a dimmer switch. the light would of course need to be ice blue

[ 11-23-2001: Message edited by: CapnPyro ]</p>
post #13 of 36
<a href="http://home.att.net/~btechinc/pline.html" target="_blank">This company</a> has developed a back-lit keyboard, but it doesn't look like it is on the market yet.
post #14 of 36
[quote]Originally posted by Fuse:
<strong><a href="http://home.att.net/~btechinc/pline.html" target="_blank">This company</a> has developed a back-lit keyboard, but it doesn't look like it is on the market yet.</strong><hr></blockquote>

We have been pursueing multiple avenues to get our Technology out there on the market. Not all have been successful, but we are relentless. I have the good news to announce that we will be releasing a press release with a company we have licensed a market segment of the technology. Our aim is to get this in every new keyboard, whether it be wireless, usb, desktop, laptop, PDA, or any other version of a data-entry device.

For understandability sake, these things take time. The licensing agreement took over four months to negotiate and they came to us. While you may find the licensee's product a little expensive, with our technology it looks very cool.

You can find them selling this product at Itronix in their Rugged Laptops. (See <a href="http://www.itronix.com)" target="_blank">www.itronix.com)</a> And do not worry -- you will see this soon in regular laptops, and desktop keyboards.

Watch for more messages on <a href="http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?threadid=94437" target="_blank">http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?threadid=94437</a>
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URL : <a href="http://www.nite-surfer.com" target="_blank">http://www.nite-surfer.com</a>
post #15 of 36
Sorry the Itronix link had a flaw:

<a href="http://www.itronix.com" target="_blank">http://www.itronix.com</a>
post #16 of 36
Why not just have a white keyboard w/ black markings, like the iBook? The light from the screen would illuminate them enough to see. I can see the white markings on my black Wallstreet in total darkness w/ the screen light reflecting off them.

Or, use some very light sensitive agent, like Cats-eyes on a road or the reflective tape on bicyclists' gear, in the keys/markings? They would amplify the light enough to see quite well.
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post #17 of 36
[quote]Originally posted by CapnPyro:
<strong>maybe have some options, perhaps a billy jean effect? the keys light up as you touch them, that way you can sort of check down and make sure your on the correct one.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Wouldn't it be too late by then?

I know what key i'm on by placing my fingers in the right place on the keyboard.

The light is to help me place my finger in the right place.

Just light up the letters
The entire keyboard doesn't need back-lit; just the painted-on letters.

The Army uses radio-active paint to slightly glow stuff.

i would think somewhere out there would be some paint that would last 18 - 24 months and give off a very sutble white-blue light that they could paint the characters on the keys with.
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post #18 of 36
I got it....!!!

How about a small ultravoilet led flasher/strobe on the left or right (both sides?) of the screen that would flash about every 1 to 6 seconds and the letters of the keys would be composed of a blue-green glow in the dark ink...

So that your keys would/could look like they are pulsing... or you could increase the rate of flash and they would glow very brightly... or turn them off all together...

you cant see ultravoilet so... you can get that "I just came from the beach tanned look" too...

I dont think a few pulses of ultraviolet light would give anybody a tan...

I lived in a dorm room for six months bathed in alot of ultraviolet light and it didnt effect me any...


E PLURIBUS UNIX
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post #19 of 36
had 2 ideas, one more complex than the other. ok, the first one, what if you were to use glow in the dark paint for the letters on the keyboard? lcds dont give off a huge amount of light, but surely enough to illuminate a little paint to make it stand out in the dark. the second idea was an lcd panel gives off plenty of light from its back too. i dont know how flexible fiber optics can be, but what if a bundle of fiber optic strands were positioned behind the lcd and then each strand went to each individual key on the keyboard? would the constant opening and closing of the lid cause them to break? the only other problem i could see with this is im not sure how you would be able to remove the keyboard to access ram/airport card, etc. as there would be (87, was it?) several dozen strands hanging off of it if you would remove it. but it was just a thought after seeing how brightly the apple logo was able to glow on the g4 and ibook
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post #20 of 36
How about we just go with this...



E PLURIBUS UNIX
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post #21 of 36
You know something, i was thinking about the above idea too. Having 2 LCD panels would be power consuming sure but with more futuristic batteries (or even fuel cells) we can acheive something like this. Multilingual keyboards would be easy to impliment as would a real numeric keypad.

Not to mention multi-trackpad buttons! Then Linux users won't have an excuse1

[ 11-25-2001: Message edited by: Outsider ]</p>
post #22 of 36
[quote]Originally posted by FERRO:
<strong>How about we just go with this...



E PLURIBUS UNIX
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</strong><hr></blockquote>

NOW THAT is a cool idea,.
post #23 of 36
I posted to the Mac Mod section of MacNN about this hoping to figure out how to backlight my pismo keyboard. It turns out I inspired someone to illuminate his apple pro keyboard, not exactly what I had in mind. However I think Apple could at least start by using glow-in-the-dark paint for the white letters on the keyboard. The light from the screen should be enough then, right?
post #24 of 36
[quote]Originally posted by FERRO:
<strong>How about we just go with this...


E PLURIBUS UNIX</strong><hr></blockquote>

It's quite cool but the lack of key action and defined keys (non visual clues on where the keys are) could maake typing a chore. some early 80's home Computers (Sinclair Z81 etc.) had touch pad keyboards and people didn't really like them. You wood have to develop a bumpy LCD
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post #25 of 36
(edit)
why not just using some optic fiber light around the keyboard or at just some place.
Also, the kensington Flylight for example has a wide area of exposure and draw very little power from my pbook : I imagine that lower power light will be more than sufficient to light reflective painted keys if it is placed on the screen panel.

[ 11-28-2001: Message edited by: Stephane ]</p>
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post #26 of 36
Actually the bottom half could be B&W screen and be used for more than just a keyboard and touchpad. Appls can use it as a drawing tablet, custom keypad, easy Qwerty transformation, angled typing, CD / DVD controls, etc. The possibilities are endless. Seems more of a future technology though.
post #27 of 36
Mediaman is right. Without tactile feedback from the keys, it won't fly.

If it was a star trek console, with big buttons spaced apart that booped everytime you hit them, we'd be ok... but keyboards are a ton of small buttons in close proximity. We need feedback of some sort: tactile or aural.
post #28 of 36
post #29 of 36
You know if you turn that Dual LCD thing 90 degrees it really starts looking like a book. Throw in an updated Acrobat that treats each screen as a page. Add pen input on both screens and you could have a pretty nifty little product.

Horribly expensive and probably difficult to sell, but nifty.
post #30 of 36
****Ive Got IT****

Make the inside case of the current LCD screen hollow, in the void, put a 45 degree mirror (thats in the correct orientation when the lid is opened fully), make the corresponding bit of the (keyboard) case hollow, and have a fresnel lens to distribute the light from the LCD's backlight around the underside of the keys, Make the keys about 95% transparent (lightly white frosted) with black lettering.

All this could be done internally, I dont literally mean have a big hole in the back of your laptop where stuff could get in.

Am I the dogs or what?
post #31 of 36
Don't forget you need a CPU and stuff.
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post #32 of 36
Hey, I think you missed the point. A back lit laptop is currently available from Itronix ( <a href="http://www.itronix.com" target="_blank">Itronix GoBook Max</a> ) using our patented design, which among other things uses EL technology, and allows for tinted or phosphur keys and adjustable brightness. You should see this in other laptops soon, and desktop versions as well.

David Byrd
CEO - Twenty-First Century Technologies, Inc.
<a href="http://www.nite-surfer.com" target="_blank">Nite-Surfer Keyboards</a>

[ 11-29-2001: Message edited by: David Byrd ]</p>
post #33 of 36
You might also want to look at other Articles, and PC-Mod sights like:

<a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/2/19358.html" target="_blank">Register Article</a>

<a href="http://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?s=4209b05cf56b660fd01d1b7f8120fd9f& threadid=1785" target="_blank">Bit-Tech Forums</a>

<a href="http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?threadid=94437" target="_blank">Hard Forum</a>

<a href="http://www.hardforums.com/showthread.php?threadid=115697" target="_blank">Another Hardfourm Thread</a>

<a href="http://www.7volts.com/casemods.htm" target="_blank">7 Volts</a>

<a href="http://www.forumoc.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=16886" target="_blank">Forum OC</a>

<a href="http://www.overclocking.be/vbb/showthread.php?s=ef4c6bb8bd40d6f73bd5486f736997b6& threadid=568" target="_blank">Overclocking.be</a>

<a href="http://ttzforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=13592" target="_blank">Ttz-forums</a>

<a href="http://www.athlonoc.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=16886" target="_blank">Athlon-OC</a>

<a href="http://forum.hardware.fr/sqlforum/forum2.php3?post=12530&cat=5&config=hardwarefr.inc &cache=" target="_blank">Hardware Fr</a>

<a href="http://www.oc.be/vbb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=568" target="_blank">oc.be</a>

<a href="http://www.twinturbo.net/cgi-bin/ttnet_viewmsg.pl?forum=general&msg_id=232289" target="_blank">Twinturbo.net</a>

<a href="http://www.twinturbo.net/cgi-bin/ttnet_viewmsg.pl?forum=general&msg_id=232374" target="_blank">Twinturbo.net Another Thread</a>



[ 11-29-2001: Message edited by: David Byrd ]

[ 11-29-2001: Message edited by: David Byrd ]</p>
post #34 of 36
[quote]Originally posted by MarcUK:
<strong>****Ive Got IT****

Make the inside case of the current LCD screen hollow, in the void, put a 45 degree mirror (thats in the correct orientation when the lid is opened fully), make the corresponding bit of the (keyboard) case hollow, and have a fresnel lens to distribute the light from the LCD's backlight around the underside of the keys, Make the keys about 95% transparent (lightly white frosted) with black lettering.

All this could be done internally, I dont literally mean have a big hole in the back of your laptop where stuff could get in.

Am I the dogs or what? </strong><hr></blockquote>

Lighting the keys via the LCD is patented already ( see patent : <a href="http://www.delphion.com/details?pn=US06040822__" target="_blank">US 6040822: Illuminated Keyboard System</a> ) and I have not seen this implemented. Good thought though...
post #35 of 36
[quote]Originally posted by David Byrd:
<strong>

Lighting the keys via the LCD is patented already ( see patent : <a href="http://www.delphion.com/details?pn=US06040822__" target="_blank">US 6040822: Illuminated Keyboard System</a> ) and I have not seen this implemented. Good thought though...</strong><hr></blockquote>

DAMN, there goes another $100million in royalties!
post #36 of 36
Ahhh, think college people!

Keep using the same keyboard colors they are, just make sure there is white on there somewhere (it will be a specific white but you'll see in a sec).

Now, on each side of the keyboard or at the top of the screen facing down place a small blacklight or use a blacklight LED. If someone doesn't make one figure out how to.

I don't think this would really work but you wanted the keyboard to "light up", now it does!
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