I once went on a blind date with someone who had been rather horribly injured in an industrial accident while working at a tuna canning plant. The fingers of their right hand were splayed out across a 270 degree angle, which not only ended their unpromising career as a jazz trombone player but made typing the “Touching the Void” style screenplay about the experience damned difficult on a standard keyboard.
If only they’d been able to get their (mangled) hands on the Ergodex DX1 Input System, which Dell have started selling online. $149.79 gets you an RF platter on which various keys can be affixed – using the Ergodex software, each key is then mapped to either a basic letter function (e.g. “A” or “Esc”) or, more interestingly, a macro of various keystrokes. Context awareness means that the same key can have different functions as you change from application to application; for instance, what controls weapon reloading in a first-person shooter might toggle filters in Photoshop.
Using a simple place-and-twist fixing mechanism, the keyboard can easily be altered for different users (and their obscenely wretched digits), and it connects via USB for easy transfer between systems. If only I hadn’t run screaming into the night, I could’ve told my blind date all about it.