Glass as an Operating surface
GETT has the largest portfolio of glass keyboards. On the one hand, there are many different options, but, on the other hand, just as many possible fields of application. They range from design-oriented settings to industrial operating places and even medical and hygiene-sensitive environments. A glass keyboard provides a completely different operating feeling than a traditional PC keyboard. But why do glass or touch keyboards exist at all? What are the advantages of this material and what specific benefits does it provide for users?
A Glimpse into the Past — How long have glass keyboards existed?
Operating surfaces made of glass came to the fore in the public arena about 15 years ago. Apple was the driving force behind this. The first desktop keyboards with a glass surface appeared at about the same time, rather as a pioneering feat. They handled all the functions of a traditional PC keyboard. However, they enjoyed little success at the beginning, but from 2010 onwards, they experienced a boom, which is still continuing today, when people recognized that the technology not only works well, but is trendy and functional too.
What does the glass have to do?
In specialist terms, any type of glass that is used for operating devices and therefore touch keyboards is assigned to so-called technical glass forms. As they work using a capacitive mode of action, the glass initially has to satisfy purely physical requirements. The types of glass therefore may not have any metallic structures or air gaps, like safety or heat-proof glass forms. Untreated glass is just as unsuitable because it is not robust enough. The material is selected with different thicknesses and various finishes, depending on the type of product and where it is going to be used.
Touch keyboards, which are used and installed in commercial/industrial settings, use a strong glass front panel that is at least three millimeters thick so that they can cope with the tougher environmental conditions. They are also normally thermally tempered. Artificial tension is produced using a heating and cooling process and this provides a high degree of resistance to impacts, bending and scratches as well as a high level of thermal shock resistance.
Touch keyboards, which are used at PC workstations, use a very thin glass surface, similar to smartphones. The glass obtains a high degree of compression stress on its surface through chemical tempering, which is achieved using an ion exchange process; this makes it far less sensitive than untreated glass. Gorilla glass is a good example of this type of glass.
Which Advantages does Glass Have as an Operating Surface for Keyboards?
Glass as a surface material has advantages that can barely be guaranteed by any other material in this combination.
Glass has a high level of inherent rigidity from a particular material thickness upwards (from two millimeters for thermally tempered white glass) and can therefore be used as an operating surface and a mechanical transfer medium at the same time.
Glass is surprisingly more resistant than other supposedly robust materials. It resists mechanical effects like impacts or vibrations as a result of tempering processes. It hardly ages, so to speak, and is not prone to corrosion.
Suitable for hygiene
Thanks to its flat, even and strong surface, glass is ideal if hygiene and cleanliness are important criteria. It is easy to remove fats, oils, bacteria and germs – or use disinfectants too.
Touch keyboards can incorporate almost unlimited designs, because glass can be printed. Apart from displaying the keys and their symbols, which are tied to fixed positions, completely free designs can be included comparatively easily.
How Do Users Benefit?
Admittedly, the first time that you type on a completely flat surface, it does seem rather strange. However, let us be honest – who has not been making full use of the screen keyboard on their smartphone for some time? And if your smartphone uses a different technology (projected capacitive touch screens), the principle is still the same. So, what are the specific benefits?
Fact 1 — Exerts less pressure on your wrists and finger joints
Typing on a keyboard with a glass surface exerts less pressure on your wrists and finger joints than using a traditional PC keyboard in physiological and functional terms. Your complete manual motor system is permanently relieved because there is no mechanical hub and there is therefore no need to exert any operating force.
Fact 2 — Protection from dirt
The enclosed surface offers users protection from dirt and therefore prevents sources of germs from developing. A brief wipe is enough to be on the safe side.
Fact 3 — Touch keyboards create a “wow” effect
Your eye always types as well! Touch keyboards create a “wow” effect and simply make the most commonly used working device in the office more stylish. They fit perfectly into high-quality, modern office environments and create highlights where general dreariness otherwise threatens to gain the upper hand.
Fact 4 — Individually set the touch sensitivity
The keys on a mechanical keyboard have a defined operating force, which is therefore the same for everybody. Touch keyboards allow you to individually set the touch sensitivity and therefore enable operating sensitivity that is geared to an individual person.
Fact 5 — The general user preference with keyboards is increasingly moving towards “typing on glass”.
The general user preference with keyboards is increasingly moving towards “typing on glass”. Thanks to the absolute dominance of smartphones, expectations for keyboards are changing too. If the first glass keyboards were viewed with suspicion and even doubts 15 years ago, they are now accepted as a matter of fact. Not only digital natives, but also those born into an analog world now automatically type on the screen keyboards of their smartphones. Non-virtual touch keyboards allow this too – even if they are very large.
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