A new riddle emerged at CES this year: Is a keyboard without keys still a keyboard? Don't overthink it; you might get a headache. Rather, consider what a company called SnapKeys has rolled out: an invisible (or, in the company's words, "imaginary") interface for typing on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
The idea is that you tap at an invisible keypad on your touchscreen with your thumbs as though you were using a traditional QWERTY keyboard. The application itself, according to SnapKeys, has four "imaginary" lettery keys and an advanced word-prediction engine to transform your thumb taps into whatever it is you're trying to type, including letters, numbers, and punctuation. The interface can be dynamically positioned anywhere on the screen, allowing access to menus, data, or whatever else the user wants to view while entering data.
SnapKeys asserts that the interface and word-prediction engine enables a high degree of accuracy: more than 92 percent for beginners and close to 99 percent for advanced users. "In rare cases where the system does not predict the desired word, a very quick and easy interaction (about 0.1 second for the advanced user) anywhere on the screen provides the desired word," according to the company's website.
To see the app in action, check out the videos on SnapKey's website.
Trojan Vibrating Twister
Trojan (yes, the condom company) decided that CES 2011 was a perfect venue to unveil its new, er, personal health device called Vibrating Twister. The name says it all. Trojan's new toy is a slightly better fit for CES than Reese's Minis. In addition to being portable -- like a smartphone -- it runs on battery power and, well, vibrates like a smartphone. There's no USB connector or any sort of Bluetooth support, however. Maybe next year?
If placing calls, listening to music, checking email, and surfing the Internet don't constitute enough uses for your smartphone, Cellwitch has come up with a way make your mobile phone a guardian of your valuables.
Cellwitch has developed what it calls a loss-prevention device. The item comes in the form of a cloud- and Bluetooth-enabled disc, the size of a poker chip, that you can attach to up to seven personal possessions, such as your wallet, keys, laptop -- even your pet Schnauzer. You can then use your cell phone to track the movements of the chipped items, up to 50 feet away.
For example, if you were about to leave the house or the office without your wallet, if you were to drop your keys, or if one of your chipped items was taken from you, your phone could send out an alert, both with audio and visual warnings. Users can choose from three sensitivities based on how close by they want a given object: an arm's length, a car's length, or a school bus length.
Another innovative feature: Users of the Ty application could help one another find their lost possessions. A lost item can blindly relay an SOS signal -- along with its location -- to its owner via another user's Ty-enabled smartphone. It then tells the relaying Ty app user that they've helped find someone's lost belonging.
The drawback is that you still run the risk of losing your own phone. Ty will warn a user via LED and buzzing if a cell phone is left behind -- though that's not helpful if the phone is powered off. But perhaps a user could get a second phone to track the first? Or else find a buddy who will track yours for you, and vice versa.
Cellwitch's personal protection device will be available in March for $70. Accessories will range from $5 to $30 in price.
This article, "7 wacky products you missed at CES 2011," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in technology news and get the key insights on the day's news at InfoWorld.com.