Microsoft Slate Windows 7 Tablet: Physical QWERTY keyboard

Amidst the huge hype over Apple’s iPad, Microsoft have been hard at work behind the scenes developing their own version of the iPad. What can Microsoft offer users, that Apple cannot? The answer, is designing a slate/tablet incorporating physical keys to be positioned at the back of the device. The new Slate Windows 7 Tablet!

According to Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet, the tablet will be designed on the basis of users gripping onto the sides in a way that can make it easy for the user to access the QWERTY keyboard! When this idea was researched, Microsoft took two halves of a QWERTY keyboard and repositioned the keys in a usable way. Microsoft has rotated the keys onto the reverse of the tablet which allows the user to operate the keys whilst their thumbs remain on the front of the device.

After the Microsoft prototype has been designed with “RearType“, it was put through it’s paces with trained QWERTY typists. With training of just an hour, 12 participants were able to type 15.1 words per minute in English, which when compared to a touchscreen soft keyboard, proving to be exactly the same result.

As with all Microsoft Research projects, it is difficult to tell when we will see this new device.

What are your thoughts on having a “back to front” tablet? Would it interest you? Feel free to give us your comments. To read up on this check out ZDNet