Programmable Keyboard

Technology to the Rescue

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership, 4-ExtPost, Blog

Programmable Keyboard

The Challenge:

Well, aging is not for the faint of heart. About a year ago, I started noticing getting a lot of double letter strikes on my keyboard while typing. I do a great deal of typing, so this problem is not acceptable. So I spent time figuring out how to “de-bounce” the keys. Nothing seemed to work. I decided it was an inexpensive keyboard, so I researched finding a new one. Searching for the “best keyboard for a writer” yielded gaming keyboards as the best option.

I’ve never been a gamer, but my son has always been a gamer.

He continuously tries to convince me that playing high-level video games isn’t a “waste of time,” but a learning and hand-eye coordination exercise. Still, I’ve never found it useful to sit in front of the PC and play games. Instead, I’d rather read a book. But I swallowed my ego and purchased a high-end gaming keyboard. It’s a unique new design that allows me to adjust the keystroke to be more or less sensitive. (For those interested, it is the Razor Huntsman V2 Analog Keyboard).

Root Cause

At the same time all this was going on, I noticed that my left hand was shaking when I tried to type or do some other task. Finally, the shaking bothered me enough to mention it to my PCP during my annual visit. She asked some questions, looked at what was happening, and stated that she thought I was developing Essential Tremors (sometimes called Intentional Tremors). That is why I decided on the programmable keyboard. It turns out the double keystrokes were my fault, not the keyboard.

I’ve eliminated all the double letters that I wasted so much time correcting by programing the keyboard not to register a key until it bottomed out—gamers to the rescue. I’ve made other changes to mitigate the impact of this new development, but the keyboard change has been the most helpful change of all.

Customer Usage

I’ve frequently been surprised by how customers use the products we make. I think the surprise happens because of my experience in the semiconductor industry. Our products went into new and exciting designs, but the functionality was pretty much fixed. A microprocessor or microcontroller had a reasonably well-defined function and feature set.

I hope there isn’t a big market for my “tremor programming” of the Razor keyboard, but it sure has been a boon for me. I know the gamers use the keyboard in the way Razor intended. But, could this be another niche market? I wonder if there are other use cases.

That raises the question of how your customers might be using your products in unexpected ways. If they are, might that lead you to make modifications to enhance their experience? Perhaps it would spark a new innovative product line? How would you find out if there are unique uses for your product?