At Typewise we are obsessed with keyboards. After all, we love keyboards so much, we designed and built our very own downloadable keyboard app for smartphones. So, we love to hear about unusual, interesting and innovative keyboards – both physical and virtual.
First up in our new Keyboard of the Month series is the SafeType Ergonomic Keyboard – a keyboard so strange, it needs wing mirrors.
Although this thing looks like it would be at home in a low-budget sci-fi series and used for flying spaceships, it’s actually more earthly problems that the SafeType is seeking to solve with its bizarre vertical design.
The manufacturer says that the SafeType is better for your posture and can reduce the chances of injuries that are associated with typing on a traditional keyboard, because their keyboard forces a more healthy typing position:
“This keyboard solves the problems of pronation, dorsal flexion and ulnar deviation that occur while working on a conventional keyboard…it virtually eliminates the high-stress postures that contribute to Repetitive Stress Injuries, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.”
Eliminating RSI seems like a noble cause, especially for touch typists who spend all day typing at high speeds. (Indeed, the manufacturers state that ONLY touch typists will be able to use the SafeType, so this is not designed for casual keyboardist.). And it appears that considerable research has gone in to the development of the SafeType.
But does the fact that SafeTypes are so rare, suggest that for most people, getting RSI from their normal keyboard is not much of a problem?
Whilst you ponder on that, enjoy this wonderfully corny early-2000 video of a woman using the SafeType:
Perhaps the most bizarre element of this keyboard is that it comes with two wing mirrors attached. These are not for checking whether your boss is behind you (though that could be an unintended benefit), they are to enable the typist to see their finger positioning, which is otherwise not visible in the normal typing position.
The SafeType has been around since 2002 and the makers claim it’s “the world’s best-selling vertical keyboard”. However, we are not sure how impressive a claim that is, seeing as a search for ‘vertical keyboards’ on Amazon revealed no other competitors, and certainly none like the SafeType.
It’s likely the SafeType does have a niche of loyal users for whom it provides a more comfortable typing experience and a reduction in injuries, but the vast majority of mentions of the SafeType keyboard online seem to be from people who are more interested in its bizarre shape, than its promise of RSI-free typing.
We’ve never seen a SafeType in-situ but this excellent appraisal of a SafeType bought on ebay is well worth a read if you want to know more about what it’s actually like to use one.
And if you ever wanted a keyboard with wing mirrors, prices start at $295 for a brand new model, or you can pick up a factory refurb for $189. They are also going second-hand on ebay for around $100 plus shipping.
For its bizarre and bold shape, and the fact that it’s the only keyboard that comes with built-in mirrors – we think the SafeType is well deserving of a place in our Keyboard Of The Month series and we salute the designers for creating something very different to anything else ever seen in the world of keyboarding.
Got a crazy keyboard to suggest? Send us your suggestions for Keyboard of the Month to firstname.lastname@example.org