Flat, Shiny PC Keyboard Developed With Sensor Devices

Mar 3, 2010
Chikara Nakayama, Nikkei Monozukuri
The "Φ-QWERTY," the keyboard of the Cool Leaf series
The "Φ-QWERTY," the keyboard of the Cool Leaf series
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]
The "Φ-Calcs," the calculator of the Cool Leaf series. The colorful number blocks are placed to emphasize the mirror-like surface.
The "Φ-Calcs," the calculator of the Cool Leaf series. The colorful number blocks are placed to emphasize the mirror-like surface.
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]
The "Φ-Remote," the remote control of the Cool Leaf series
The "Φ-Remote," the remote control of the Cool Leaf series
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]

Minebea Co Ltd developed new input devices with a flat surface in collaboration with Kazuo Kawasaki, professor at Osaka University.

The input devices, "Cool Leaf," were realized by combining technologies that have been developed for the design and development of Minebea's keyboards, lighting devices (light guide plate-type backlights), measurement devices (force sensors), etc. The company disclosed a keyboard, remote control and calculator of the Cool Leaf series March 2, 2010, in Japan.

Covered with a transparent acrylic board, the surface of the Cool Leaf is flat, and there is no gap between parts. Under the acrylic board, (1) Toray Industries Inc's half mirror-type film made with a new material, (2) the sensor part including a capacitive touch panel, etc and (3) a light guide plate-type backlight are stacked. For the sensor part, it is also possible to combine a capacitive touch panel with a load sensor, Minebea said.

The flat surface prevents dirt and dust from accumulating on the surface or inside the device. And the device can be easily cleaned.

When the power is off, the surface is like a mirror. But, when the surface is touched to turn on the power, it shows letters and numbers. Minebea created such a function not only for design consideration but for use in the medical field and dark home theaters.

Minebea plans to expand the use of the Cool Leaf to digital devices other than PC keyboards and remote controls, communication devices, residential devices, medical devices and so forth. Moreover, the company is considering adding a haptic device, an acceleration sensor, etc to the Cool Leaf.