Siemens to sell virtual keyboard in Europe

Tired of thumbing in text messages on your mobile phone, or struggling with the stylus on your PDA (personal digital assistant)? Siemens AG and VKB Inc. say they have the solution: a virtual keyboard.

A small device, developed in Israel by Delaware-based VKB, can project a nearly full-sized keyboard onto any flat surface and uses an infrared system to sense what the user is typing, Siemens of Munich said in a statement Monday.

"This is very useful for people who travel a lot and use a PDA or a mobile phone on the road. For typing in a long text while on a plane or train, for example," said Monika Winkler, spokeswoman for Siemens Procurement and Logistics Services, the Siemens unit that will distribute the virtual keyboard.

Siemens first demonstrated the virtual keyboard at the CeBIT tradeshow in Hannover, Germany, earlier this year. It will be the first distributor of the virtual keyboard in the world and is looking at building the technology into its mobile phones and handheld computers, Winkler said.

Manufacturing of the virtual keyboard projector will be handled by a VKB partner in Asia, under close supervision from Siemens, which is considering branding the device, Winkler said. The street price of a virtual keyboard should be between €90 (US$83) and €150, she said.

First deliveries to retailers in Germany and the rest of Europe are planned for the second half of the year. If there is worldwide interest, then Siemens could sell the product to retailers worldwide, Winkler said.

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