Posted by Deliverator on April 23rd, 2009
I recently went searching for a handheld, touch-typeable input device for a wearable computer project, but came up pretty dry. Long standing favorites of the wearable community like the Twiddler 2 chording keyboard from Handkey are no longer being manufactured and are next to impossible to find through after-market channels like eBay. I found no single-handed device which combined both keying and pointing, but I did find a two handed one called the Alphagrip AG-5.
The AG-5 is shaped like a game controller and has discrete keys for all letters and a few of the most common punctuation marks, with less often used symbols as second functions. It also has a variable speed trackball. Sadly, there is no scroll-wheel and middle click is somewhat awkward to activate.
I’ve been practicing touch-typing using this typing tutor, which has a module for the alphagrip. I am not typing very fast yet, but I am touch typing with pretty high accuracy. I am slowly developing muscle memory and will hopefully be able to type much faster in the future. I’ve seen video of people typing at 40-60 wpm.
I really like the Alphagrip. It is pretty ergonomic for my size hands and comfortable to use for an extended time. I could see it benefiting those who have trouble typing on a conventional keyboard due to stress injuries. A lot of thought has obviously gone into key placement and overall design of the AG-5, and it is easy to believe that it went through 5 major revisions before being released to the public. It is not without its faults. The biggest is the lack of wireless support via either Bluetooth or a USB dongle. I can understand the need to bring a version 1 product to market to support future development, but at the same time it seems like an obvious feature which would greatly increase the appeal of the Alphagrip.
As you might have guessed, this entry was composed on my Alphagrip.