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What is a Virtual Keyboard?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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The virtual keyboard is an innovation in product software that allows alternative to use of a conventional computer keyboard. Sometimes referred to as a laser keyboard, it provides a simple and effective solution for persons who are unable to operate standard keyboards. Currently, there are several emulation programs on the market today that can be added to any desktop or laptop system and create a virtual keyboard environment.

Loading the software for a virtual keyboard is no different from loading any software package. Once in place, the keyboard can be activated and allowed to reside on the desktop for easy access. When it comes to working the keyboard, different software packages will make use of different input devices. In some cases, the actual keyboard is used to active the virtual component, then the mouse can be used to move over the virtual keys, allowing the user to type by selecting the right keys on the display. This format is often very helpful for persons who are suffering from any condition that limits the mobility of the hands.

Along with operation by the use of a computer mouse, there are a couple of alternative devices that are available with some virtual keyboard software. The headmouse and eyemouse are excellent solutions when body mobility is impeded. Utilizing laser technology, it is possible to operate the virtual keyboard with the use of simple head movements, or even by blinking the eyes.

Hand held devices are also often equipped with a virtual keyboard. In this type of application, the keyboard is usually accessed and manipulated using a stylus that is included with the unit. By simply holding the stylus in one hand, it is possible to draft messages, move through stored documents, and make entries on spreadsheets that are stored on the hard drive. While not quite as user friendly as the virtual keyboard solutions offered for desktop and laptop computers, virtual keyboards loaded onto personal data assistants do eliminate the need to connect a folding keyboard to the PDA in order to work with documents and programs.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including EasyTechJunkie, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By Melonlity — On May 12, 2014

@Markerrag -- agreed, but don't discount the value of these on desktop computers. They are obviously a benefit to people who can't use a traditional keyboard for one reason or another, but they also offer the chance for people to customize keyboard layouts and do all sorts of things that can make it easier to use a computer.

By Markerrag — On May 11, 2014

Once these are perfected and affordable, they hold a lot of potential for mobile device users. A lot of people simply have trouble typing on cramped, on-screen keyboards that have become standard with smartphones and tablets.

You can hook up an analog keyboard to those units, but they add weight and some connect slowly through Bluetooth. They are decent solutions for someone wanting a real keyboard on a mobile device, but they are not idea solutions. A virtual keyboard might be as it could potentially offer a full-sized keyboard without adding weight or another device to what is supposed to be a sleek, mobile unit.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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