Open Source Drum Keyboard Could Be the Answer To VR’s Typing Woes

by Joe Durbin • February 4th, 2017

“Where the [expletive deleted] is my keyboard?”

As someone who spends a lot of time inside of a virtual reality headset, this is something I find myself barking angrily to myself quite a bit. My neighbors love me.

The issues is that in order for a VR headset to function well it needs to keep outside light from getting inside. This is called “light leakage” and headsets block it by building a seal around your face where the headset meets it. With the exception of a small gap that usually appears around your nose, a VR headset is an impenetrable fortress for anything outside of the experience you are in. This is not so great for typing.

I typically have to tilt my headset off my face every time I need to find the home keys on my desktop. From there my eighth grade typing class takes over and I’m off to the races. A solution to this problem is sorely needed, especially as social and productivity experiences for VR become more common. One enterprising duo may have cracked the case.

Normal VR has created something they call Cutie Keys. This is an in-VR typing solution that brings up a large digital keyboard that you interact with via…drumsticks?

Yep, that’s the basic idea. With Cutie Keys you drum your way to a full sentence. That may sound a bit odd but drumming your way through an email like this is one of the quickest ways to go at the moment. Google revealed a similar drum-typing interface at its IO conference last year. However, in an email to UploadVR, Normal VR clarifies that:

It’s similar. We were inspired by Google, but made it all our own. We also added some fun interactions and sounds. We spent a lot of time making it feel good and something we’d actually want to use every day. I think we’ll save other developers a lot of time and we’re excited to see what people do with it.

Google has no stated plans to release the drum keyboard system they debuted, so the Normal VR team has decided to provide theirs as an open source solution for any developer, meaning we could be seeing this in a litany of VR experiences very soon.

What do you think? Is drum-typing an adequate solution to sentence building in VR? Let us know in the comments below.

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