Data Egg Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
I want one!! Is it available yet?
Although the Data Egg is an idea whose time has come, it is not yet currently available. This web site has been set up to encourage others to exchange ideas, and hopefully accelerate the attraction of proper startup funding to get this state-of-the-art communication device off the ground.
How long does it take to learn the Data Egg alphabet?
The alphabet is remarkably easy to memorize, taking most people about 2 hours just for the letters alone. (Contrast this to weeks or months to learn how to type on a typewriter; also 2 hours is roughly the same time it takes to learn Graffiti for the PalmPilot.) In fact, the shape of the letters resembles the pattern of buttons that must be pressed to generate it; a handy mnemonic to aid in memorization!
A full set of chords has been worked out to also cover punctuation, numbers, function keys, INS, DEL, all Control-, Alt-, and FN key combinations for applications where the Data Egg is to be used as a remote keyboard.
Does the InfoGrip BAT (another one-handed keyboard) use the same chords as the Data Egg?
The BAT is similar in concept to the data egg, except the designers never identified portability as a problem to be addressed. The BAT chording scheme was based upon a physiological study done in Israel, where chords proven easy for the hand to press were mapped into the most commonly-used English letters. While this is theoretically the purest implementation possible, the alphabet seemed completely arbitrary to a newcomer, making it very difficult to learn. The Data Egg alphabet was developed in England for a BAT-like device called the Microwriter. (The company has since folded.) While it also used 7 buttons, the Microwriter alphabet was designed to be easy to learn.
How does the Twiddler (another one-handed keyboard) compare to the Data Egg?
The Egg differs from the Twiddler in a subtle but significant way: The egg was designed to address the problem of autonomous usage; of capturing ideas and accessing information when the desktop computer was not nearby. The Twiddler, by contrast, only identified three-handed operation as a problem, the resulting solution is designed for use when you're tethered to a workstation, just like the keyboard. Wearable enthusiasts have been after me for years wanting to buy a Data Egg, although they intended to use it as a tethered keyboard, not as a complete, unencumbering handheld computer.
Is the Data Egg a good solution to Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) conditions, like carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)?
I have been approached by many people who see the Data Egg as a desirable alternative to the traditional keyboard that will not cause wrist and arm pain after extended use. I started suffering from the condition myself many years ago, and in my research to come up with an innovative solution to the problem, I discovered the following:
- None of the alternative keyboards on the market, including the Data Egg, will alleviate the condition, since repetitive motion of the fingers is required to operate them all. Read the manufacturer's claims carefully: "...MAY reduce Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other RSI-related problems..." There is nothing in theory or in actual case studies to support any claims of injury reduction.
- Career typists from the 1950's never contracted RSI because (believe it or not) they had automatic rests at regular intervals, hitting the 'return' bar and changing paper!!
- There is nothing inherently bad about the current keyboard layout -- just make sure your work area is adjusted properly (arms level, frequent breaks and exercises, etc.)
Two of my significant inputs to this research were a chronic RSI sufferer at JPL (it even hurt for him to write with a pencil - pen-based visual programming interfaces are out!), and an RSI expert/consultant in Northern California.
How much will it cost?
Difficult to say. In its original incarnation, the Data Egg was conceived as a position-independent information capturing device; in which case the price could easily have been in the $75-$150 range. Adding the natural extensions of 2-way packet radio and all the new high-tech functionality that are now possible, volume production will ultimately dictate the high-end price.
How much memory will it have?
This is an implementation detail. Since the primary application would most likely be as a handheld PDA, 64 - 128 MB would be a good minimum amount. Since the Egg is destined to be used as a portable knowledge store, hundreds of megabytes will one day seem a reasonable amount.
Can I use the Data Egg as a remote keyboard to my existing PC?
The short answer is "yes"; in theory it's a very simple feature to offer. Marketing surveys, device drivers, and the problem of universal keyboard hookup may all come into play when making a business decision as to whether or not to bundle it with the native package.
Are you planning any device drivers or interface applications for [Insert your favorite platform here]?
All sorts of ideas have been tossed around, the most popular being Win95, Mac, PalmPilot, and Newton. Speculation on any of these would be premature until the hardware gets off the ground.
Do you need any help in bringing this unique idea to market?
(a.k.a., "Okay, I'm convinced this is a brilliant idea. How can I invest in this and help make it a reality?")
Visionary investors are always welcome, plus many types of talent and resources will be required to bring the product to market and successfully make the transition to the mainstream. E2 Solutions is looking for partners for this technology development endeavor. If you think you can aid in bringing this concept to life (especially in the realm of funding), please E-mail to Gary@Friedman.org.
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