Friday, August 26, 2011

The Search for Quiet

Courtroom proceedings are an often intense environment during which one strains to hear every nuance of spoken communication.  And while there are many problems with courtroom acoustics, especially in large courtrooms, the tapping of keyboards can be disturbing.

In 2007 Judge Michael Marcus from the Circuit Court of Multnomah County Oregon shared his views on his quest for a quiet keyboard.  That quest continues to this day.  But as expected, there are two recent technology innovations that could be considered as a solution to this problem.

With the advent of the "virtual keyboard" on the iPad (and smart phones) it was only a matter of time before someone developed a "glass keyboard".  That someone was famed industrial designer Kazuo Kawasaki who worked with Minebea corporation to create the "Cool Leaf Keyboard".  This work of art can be programmed with different keyboard layout and languages and is completely silent (unless one turns on the audible feedback sounds as shown in the video linked below).  For more see the following:

Similarly, Microsoft showed their initial concept for the new Windows 8 user interface that supports touch interfaces in response to the needs of tablet computing.  But one can easily see that applying these ideas on All-in-One PC's that are already on the market can potentially benefit the courts in even the short-term.   Touch concepts were shown at the last Court Technology Conference in 2009 and it is certainly possible that this trend will continue at the upcoming CTC-2011 conference in Long Beach, California in October.

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