Generally, standard issue flat “QWERTY” keyboards are all consumers use and/or are aware of. However, there are a rising amount of unorthodox (and in some cases generally gimmick-y ) keyboard-like products.
The first one to take a look at is the Orbitouch keyboard, that actually doesn’t have any keys whatsoever. The board uses two large bulbous and moveable domes with a colour wheel around the right-hand one and a letter wheel circumferencing the left-hand one. The idea behind this “keyboard” is to remove the three points of strain with using a “QWERTY” board (pronation, extension, and ulnar deviation), as well as allow people with disabilities prohibiting them from using a “QWERTY” board (arthritis, cerebral palsy, autism, etc.) to have access to a comfortable alternative. However, the comfort is costly, considering the board itself is currently marketed at $400.
The next ergonomic keyboard actually has keys, but not where you would think. The Kinesis Advantage 2 has two sizable dips on either side of the board, both filled with keys in what is engineered to be the most comfortable typing experience ever. Outside of the dips is rests for the users palm-to-wrist area, and clusters of keys where the thumb would rest (thumb clusters). This keyboard does solve the three issues previously mentioned for the OrbiTouch, however is not as great of a solution for the physical impairments listed prior as the OrbiTouch. A small “1-Up” for the Advantage 2 compared to the OrbiTouch is the fact that it comes in at $350, rather than $400.
The last board to mention is the mildly disorienting keyboard, which is built as two upright board halves for an effective typing experience in a smaller package. The Yogitype’s main idea is to provide a comfortable and efficient typing experience while remaining portable and sleek. It features two forearm rests on either side of the base, so typing on the upright panels is more comfortable. A key note for the board itself is that the user actually types on the board backwards, where the symbols for each key are facing the user, but the mechanical keys are on the backside at an angle. The Yogitype is a lot less reasonable in terms of practical use, however is virtually more ergonomic than a “QWERTY” board. The Yogitype is coming in at the same price as the Kinesis Advantage 2.
The market for ergonomic keyboards is a strange one, as most ergonomic keyboards are too expensive for general consumers. However, they do generally yield some sort of advantage over standard “QWERTY” boards. In conclusion, ergonomic/nonstandard keyboards have a decent way to go before they are really considered viable typing and productivity platforms.