Some folks insist that one of the deal breakers of the iPhone is the lack of a physical keyboard while, in my opinion as a long time iPhone user who is used to its virtual keyboard, the need for a physical keyboard is unnecessary.
However, I have realized that as user habits change, and they depend more and more on smartphones like the iPhone rather than laptops while they are on the move and start using them for things like writing blog posts, long emails etc then an external keyboard can prove to be quite useful.
Stephen from Perceptive Development dropped us a comment on our earlier post about how an iPhone was hacked to make it work with a Bluetooth keyboard to tell us that they have developed a hardware and software solution that allows an external keyboard to work with an iPhone without hacking it.
We have already seen few solutions where an iPhone was hacked to pair it with an external keyboard such as wiring it up to a genuine physical keyboard or using an external Bluetooth module to pair it with a Bluetooth keyboard and then without any external Bluetooth module.
Perceptive Development is claiming that they have developed a hardware and software solution that will allow you to use an external keyboard with your iPhone.
They have explained how they managed it:
"Zack used a Cypress PSoC microcontroller to emulate a simple modem, and then expanded it to detect an infrared signal or read from a USB host controller, and convert this sginal convert it to an FSK signal for transmission to an iPhone.
George then created an iPhone application to decode the FSK signals to interpret the keyboard data and display the appropriate characters on-screen."
They have also published a video to give a quick demo of their working solution:
Based on the video, the hardware and software solution appears to be quite wiry, and I must say I can definitely type a lot
faster on my iPhone's virtual keyboard then the guy giving the demo on the external keyboard.
But the impressive thing about their feat is that they didn't hack the iPhone and used less than $20 worth of electronics.
The other interesting bit about their solution is that they used iPhone firmware 2.0 SDK and not iPhone firmware 3.0 which was previewed by Apple last week. Apple has added support for peer to peer connectivity in iPhone firmware 3.0 over Bluetooth which many believe can be used to pair an external keyboard to the iPhone.
Perceptive Development plans to release the schematics and source code of their solution in April.
What do you think about their solution? How many of you will like to use an external keyboard with an iPhone? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
Change: Title of the post updated[via Perceptive Development, thanks Stephen]