With a concept keyboard, users are given access to a flat board with a grid of buttons to use at their discretion. Each button can be programmed to provide a specific response, based on the needs of the individual or corporation.
To learn what each button offers, an overlay sheet with either symbols or pictures is displayed on the grid. That allows the concept keyboard to function much like a regular keyboard, telling users what to expect when each button is pressed.
Although a concept keyboard can be used in any business or input need, organizations which focus on providing fast service processes with specificity tend to use this technology more often.
List of the Advantages of Concept Keyboards
1. They can be used in place of an ordinary keyboard.
Some people struggle to use a standard keyboard when attempting to input data. There may be some locations where a standard keyboard may not be functional, such as a dusty environment, a wet environment, or a workplace where gloved fingers make it difficult to hit specific input keys. The concept keyboard stays contained within the flat board, serving as an input for computing or point-of-sale systems to generate results.
2. It creates faster response times for users.
Concept keyboards use visual stimuli to generate information processing more than a traditional keyboard. Although there are visual letter representations on a standard keyboard of each letter or command, the concept keyboard can use actual images, such as an emoji, to represent a specific command. A restaurant, for example, might place the picture of a menu item on a button to indicate it should be pressed if a customer orders the item.
3. It can be designed as a waterproof item.
A concept keyboard can be designed to meet the specific needs of any environment. That includes creating a waterproof design that reduces the risk of equipment damage in difficult environments. Users can take advantage of the button placement in multiple situations as well, allowing for businesses to create opportunities for multitasking. An employee could take an order, then cook some of the food, and then deliver the order in the amount of time saved when compared to a conventional keyboard.
4. There isn’t a need to learn how to type.
If a user is forced to enter inputs using a standard keyboard, then they must take the time to learn how to type. Trying to find the right letters to type, or the correct commands to issue, can sometimes take months before a user becomes proficient with the technology. By using a concept keyboard, users become immediately familiar with the commands they need to process with the visual cues provided. Although it does take them time to find those commands when first using this technology, the learning curve is much shorter.
5. It reduces the number of mistakes that are made.
Standard keyboards are prone to creating typos. For some industries, a typo can have a negative impact on profits, a long-term budget, or how the company communicates with its customers. A concept keyboard is not affected by this process. That is because each button initiates a specific command routine. If the wrong button is pressed, the user can back out of the command process to initiate a new one.
6. Concept keyboards can automate complicated processes.
A good example of this advantage is found in the processing of a credit card payment. Before concept keyboards were available, a business would run a credit card purchase using a carbon copy receipt. The machine would make an impression of the card on the receipt, which exposed a person’s account information. With a concept keyboard, the process is automated, requiring the clerk to ask for payment and offer a receipt for most purchases. This speeds up the transaction time, reduces privacy concerns, and provides better accuracy within the purchasing process.
7. They can be added to conventional keyboards with some systems.
Concept keyboards can be connected to conventional keyboards using adaptive concepts. Specific buttons can tell the computer to visit a certain website, make a specific purchase, or initiate some other type of command. Modern concept keyboards that connect with current technologies come with 6-15 programmable buttons which can be fully customized to meet specific user needs.
8. It is a tamper-proof technology.
If someone knows how to influence computer technologies, then they could use a standard keyboard to hack into information or processes that a corporation would prefer to keep private. Installing a concept keyboard allows companies to provide access to specific data points, such as an information kiosk, without worrying about individuals somehow being able to corrupt the data being offered. Because this technology is designed to be tamper-proof, it is an easy way to extend the reach of a brand, or provide customer service, without the additional ongoing costs of labor.
List of the Disadvantages of Concept Keyboards
1. It does not work well of text-based or numeric inputs.
Although some concept keyboards do offer numeric inputs on a separate keypad, this technology is not usually well-suited to textual inputs. It is designed to process commands instead. If a company allows customers to order customized products, a standard keyboard may be a better option, especially if it is combined with a touchscreen. Customized commands place a concept keyboard at a distinct disadvantage.
2. Concept keyboards limit user options.
Although the buttons of a concept keyboard can be assigned to a virtually unlimited number of commands, they do limit the options of the users. These keyboards can only supply commands that have been programmed into it already for users. If something outside of these buttons must be communicated, then this technology is unable to make that happen without additional programming. Most computers using concept keyboards cannot be used for normal computing tasks.
3. It comes at a higher overall cost to the company.
Concept keyboards are advantageous when there are repetitive tasks that must be completed. Because each requires a specific command line series to be programmed into the buttons, the capital costs of this technology are much higher than they would be for a standard keyboard. The difference can be several thousand dollars for companies which require a system that can be accessed by multiple users.
4. They have been known to lead to health problems with extended use.
Because concept keyboards are designed to initiate commands for repetitive needs, users of this technology face a higher risk of developing a repetitive strain injury. These injuries occur because users are repeating the same actions, sometimes hundreds of times, over the course of a day. Although posture changes, proper setups, and using both hands can reduce injury risks on a personal level, the very nature of the technology still provides an increased risk compared to other options.
5. It often relies on a dirty screen.
Because the screens are often used as a touchscreen with a concept keyboard, they tend to get dirty over time. The oils from the skin of the user are left behind on the screen, requiring it to be cleaned frequently. Those fingerprints can even obscure some of the commands listed on the button overlay of the keyboard, which can sometimes make it difficult to use.
6. They tend to need to be reprogrammed over time.
Because concept keyboards tend to use icons instead of standard letters, the command sequences need to be updated periodically as things change for an organization. That means the long-term maintenance costs for this technology tend to be higher than they are for standard keyboards. Although most companies can make up the difference in expenses through the time users save creating inputs, there is no guarantee that this can happen.
7. Some users may find concept keyboards difficult to use.
Just like with a standard keyboard, users who have limited wrist, arm, or finger movements may find it difficult to use this technology. There are several adaptions which can be implemented to counter these movement restrictions. On an individualized level, however, there will still be some people who are unable to take advantage of the benefits this technology is able to provide.
These concept keyboard advantages and disadvantages focus on the need to be productive. In some environments, it is more important to initiate a specific command process with one button touch than attempting to type out a full command string. The presence of this technology makes that possible. At the same time, however, users are limiting to the commands which have been programmed into the keyboard, which makes this technology useful in specific situations only.