Tasty Technology: Virtual keyboard

April 25, 2008

There was a nice bit of kit featured on the Guardian’s Dork Talk page recently. It was the LaserKey CL850 Projection Keyboard, a device that projects a virtual keyboard onto your desk and uses light sensors to detect which ‘keys’ your fingers are tapping.

It’s a bit of sci-fi wizardary come to life.

The device is aimed at the handheld technology market and communicates with your PDA or Blackberry via Bluetooth or USB. This would be a great tool for people like me who find using tiny fiddly, plastic buttons to type anything bigger than a simple text message a bit of a nightmare. It would also enable mobile communication and learning to be taken to the next level – increased accessibility, accuracy and speed for typing on screen.

The only downer about this product is that it’s yet another additional bit of hardware that you need to carry around with you along with your mobile device. If your Blackberry itself could beam out the keyboard then we’d truely be in sci-fi business heaven.

On the other hand…

April 17, 2008

…despite not being sure of Second Life as a learning tool, I found this e-learning company up in Sunderland that specialises in games based simulations using an interactive 3D environment similar to SL and other first-person games. Here, training and learning is provided for sectors such as Pharmaceuticals and Health and Safety. There’s a nice little video that gives a demo of what they do.

Second Life for learning

April 15, 2008

Our team had a quick look at Second Life yesterday. There’s been a lot of speculation recently that this could be the future of online learning. It was fun getting to grips with the ‘strange, new world’ and it’s quirky features but it seemed a bit frustrating trying to communicate with random people and engaging in conversation. You would need to spend a lot of time using it to explore what you can do and undertand it’s potential. And if it takes that much effort then I think a lot of people will just not bother.

My main concern is the amount of people using Second Life for ill-use. I’ve heard some pretty horrible things can or could take place in there. Pretty worrying really, especially for vunerable young people (although there is Teen Second Life available).

Although Second Life holds obvious value for marketing and advertising, I’m still sceptical of the true learning potential it can offer (apart from social networking) but it’s early days yet.

A look at the Eee PC

April 15, 2008

We have had a few Eee Pc’s delivered to the College recently and I was keen to check them out. They look pretty sweet – small, compact and in a clean mighty white colour. Ultra cool. The start up is pretty snappy, then you’re in the Linux interface which here, is a series of big, click-on-me icons. You can’t go wrong. I was impressed by the ease of use of it all – browsing the internet, using the applications and built-in webcam. I recorded some video from the webcam but it saves it in a .ogg file which I’m not sure transfers that well unless you convert it using an encoder (ie, not sure how easy it is to get footage on the web/blogs etc).

A collegue used one at a conference recently to give an up-to-date account of events using a blog. The webcam was used to interview people, get their opinions and capture their image. It worked really well.