They are quite large. For instance, I could not bring them to a coffee shop (for more reasons than this) because the smallish tables wouldn't be able to accommodate my 15" mbp + the DataHands.
The build quality feel a bit lacking. These guys don't have the build quality of, say, an iPhone -- and for a $1,500 keyboard (retail), I would have expected a bit more.
Its a bit strange to move some of the lesser used fingers in certain directions without hitting other keys. I'm sure this could be fixed with a little practice, but moving my ring finger without moving my pinky and hitting another key was/is tough.
Overall, they are unique and interesting to have on a desk and pretend I use them. But if unless you have serious RSI and these are your last resort, I would probably recommend another ergonomic keyboard.
I wonder what it would be worth these days if I bothered to put it up on eBay, I bought it used for $280 at the time.
Now it looks like their website is gone completely.
They don't come up on eBay much at all; I suspect you'd get a good amount for them.
Another interesting project to follow is the Nexus keyboard : http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=44940.0
To me one of the rare person who really "got it" is "Jesse" (he's both here, on GeekHack and on Deskthority) with its "butterfly" keyboard.
That's one of the only split (and ergonomic) keyboard that takes into account the fact that the thumb's opposition-apposition makes it unlike any other finger.
Look at his "butterfy" keyboard here and how smartly the keys you're to hit with the thumbs are positionned:
I agree that the ergodox is not perfect and the thumb clusters could be improved, I'm just not sold that the butterfly does that.
Here's an old post with my initial impressions of the ergodox . I need to add an update, but I have since purchased a second unit for home and have been typing with the "Norman" layout since day 2.
(BTW, massdrop currently has the keyboard up for sale, but you need to act fast as there is only a day or so left)
0 - http://hairysun.com/blog/2013/04/02/oh-ergonomic-keyboard/
Separately, I've very gradually been working on a personal project starting with slightly modified Kinesis keywells for the fingers. (I've been using Kinesis keyboard for 15 years and am mostly satisfied with the finger portion.) I use small SPI / I²C adapters on the keywells for flexible separation and positioning². I have still not found a thumb arrangement I'm happy with, though.
The AcidFire Nexus design linked elsewhere in this thread attempts to address this by dropping the thumb clusters to a lower level, which looks like a really great idea. The only other design I've seen which addresses this problem is Oobly's: http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=49721.0
It never really took off, but at the time, it was super cool.
Edit: some more links on chord keyboards:
The injuries I experienced were due to holding tension in the shoulders and back (due to working while tired, altered posture while caffeinated and the self-directed stress of trying to get some work done).
Technical fixes like this might provide relief for a while but I think they miss the core problem, which imo boils down to your body not being relaxed while you work.
I bought the Datahand and used it for a good two weeks. The mouse cursor can only be controlled up/down , left/right with it. With too much graphical work, that cut my use of it short.
Several years later I started a strength training program, and within a few weeks my RSI vanished. At its worst, my arms would be numb when I woke up, I had sustained numbness in one hand for weeks, at one point I couldn't physically hold a mouse more than 15 minutes. It took a quick Google Image search to know I would never do a carpel tunnel release surgery.
After adding up the workout time spent, it was about 4 hours of strength training (no weights or gripping) that ended 5 years of debilitating wrist pain. From what I've been able to tell many years later, it was all from doing pushups -- which likely has everything to do with shoulder and back muscles. That ironic thing was, because the pain was in my wrists and arms, I thought doing pushups would cause too much pain so I had stopped doing them.
Now instead of ergonomics I think of how to be more active while and between working.
This site might seem a little spammy, but its methodology for figuring out how many to start with and at what rate to increase the # of pushups was a big help for me. I started at about 3 pushups and even after a long break due to the injury I can do 15, which is saying a lot since I am completely out of shape!
Most important was breaks and not using a laptop keyboard/trackpad while sitting down in a chair, ever, for a long period of time. That causes insta-RSI for me.
Edit: particularly #14 in computer_desk_stretches.pdf
Even if it's not good for coding then I might be tempted to learn it anyway, but now speech-to-text is starting to get good enough that I'm questioning whether it'd be worth the time investment (at least for me personally).
For stenography, you consider English words as syllable sounds, learn how those sounds are represented with 1900s Stenography machine key combinations, and then to use Plover, learn where those Steno key combinations are on a normal keyboard(1).
And after that, learn the Steno shortcuts which make it fast. Standard shortcuts e.g. rolling up word endings like -ing, -ed, -end; but also personal shortcuts like "I write the phrase 'Software as a Service (SAAS)' a lot so I'll make a one-press short mapping for it". This means that everyone uses slightly different Steno combinations to say the same things - to be fast, it has to be tailored by you for the kinds of things you write.
Which boils down to relearning how to spell every word in English a second way - seems like a significant chunk of the effort towards learning a second language entirely - and also relearning how to type, in a way that will pretty much only work on your computer.
And after that, you can write English prose quickly. But it doesn't apply well to command line software. Or programming. Or foreign languages. Or tables, lists, punctuation, etc. because you aren't typing character by character anymore. Things like 'find ./ -mtime -3 | grep mp3 | vim -' or 'vim XF86Config' - making sure to get the capitals right - have no easy English spoken representation, so until and unless you make a Stenographic form for it for yourself you will have to switch Plover off and type normally.
Mirabai Knight (the linked video presenter) suggests adding combinations for common programming patterns, essentially using it like a code-snippets engine. I don't know if this works well or not.
Another problem is right at the first bit where you need to "consider English words as sounds" you find that English has different words which sound the same (bear/bare, their/there/they're for example). So you can't just press the keys for how the word sounds, you also have to dodge around the words where that doesn't work, and remember the alternate mappings which only apply to certain words. That means you can't just learn a new word and type it because it might not have an obvious Steno representation, it might have one that's dodged around another word or is shortened beyond what you'd expect just from the syllable sounds.
Fundamentally this happens because some of the information in reading English is carried by the context. You hear "the bear mauled the victim" and you know which word is meant. Historically Stenography was encoding the syllable sounds directly to paper, and then the stenographer would read them back - it didn't matter that different words encoded the same way as the stenographer could interpret the context when reading back in the same way as they could when hearing the sentence in the first place. So Stenography was a fast way to take dictation, but producing a written transcript or document meant going over everything a second time reading it back and transcribing it - twice the effort or more, and not usually discussed when talking about speed.
Plover, however, is avoiding that work by automatically expanding the key combinations out to full words, saving you the rereading and rewriting work. At this point it does matter if separate words encode the same way because it can't choose one from the context like you can. So you have to interpret the context and deliberately encode the words as if they sounded different to give an unambiguous feed to Plover.
I can't help but wonder if you could get 25% of the benefit with 3% of the effort by 1. writing less (he says, after writing 700 words about it), 2. setting up some AutoHotkey style keyboard shortcuts for phrases you write a lot, and 3. having as many templated email messages as you can get away with.
(1). You can't use a normal keyboard, you need one which can handle 10-12 concurrent keypresses (aka anti-ghosting / n-key rollover). Most keyboards and laptops top out at ~6 simultaneous keypresses registering properly. Plover is why I have a Microsoft SideWinder X4 which is one of the few that can handle any amount).
That said, I toggle between chiclets and a kenesis.
Found something on GitHub: https://github.com/henrahmagix/enders-keyboard
Now I learnt a bit about typing skills and ergonomics I am fine on a regular keyboard, but I would have kept on with the datahands if not for its massive lack of practicality.
Basic typing was great, but using it on a mac for programming was not so great - all the modifier keys were wrong, and the PS2-USB connection was flaky. Not to mention carrying it around with a laptop was basically impossible without a dedicated case...
I have wanted one for a while but currently they are somewhat difficult to obtain and the prices are high. It seems like a natural match for text input when using either class of device ("virtual" or "augmented"), although a difficult initial learning process might make it hard to sell to the general public. Still, you could try to target developers and IT people on the go (use case: Glass + keyer for SSH) or people who want to play an MMO when on the subway train or out for a walk.
I don't know how comfortable it is to use as I've never touched one. It certainly looks as if it could be uncomfortable, but for some people at least it seems to be workable. Another problem would be stowing the thing when it's not in use: it should fit easily in a purse or coat pocket but would probably break the lines of a suit trousers or jacket. As a chording keyboard it's obviously going to take some time to learn well, too. All that, and the unusual figure you'll cut using it in public, may mean that this is strictly one for the nerds and the mobile-typing hardcore, but that would be fairly ok by me...
It also has an integrated pointing stick, which is probably useful for selecting text on a phone as well as being necessary for single-handed operation of non-touch devices. With a smartphone/tablet + Bluetooth headset + Twiddler3 and suitable software it would be possible to do a fair number of smartphone tasks without having to take the phone out and look at the screen. Similarly it ought to be suitable as a input device for controlling AR goggles as well as getting text into them (at least assuming the goggles have the battery capacity to run Bluetooth...)
With a software-physical-keyboard it has to be visible as there are so many small keys to precisely hit, but with a software-chording-keyboard there could be a few sketched lines where each finger could press.
I have no concrete suggestions though.
There are two big things the Oculus does:
Creates an enormous large (virtual) work space
Think about instead of sitting hunched over a small laptop in a tiny room, the entire Grand Canyon is your office. You don't need to use the whole thing, but the space is available just in case. You won't have to hunch over, you can move around, may be even run.
This user "okreylos" on YouTube has some really interesting videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/okreylos?feature=watch By combining the Oculus & Hydra with the Kinect, he has a tool to move around an interact with 3D data
There is someone else, who I can't remember, who used the Kinect to overlay images of his own hands in the 3D environment. Curiously, with all of this focus on augmented reality the solution may just be to pull the reality around us in to the digital world.
The goal is to be a) more efficient and b) minimize the risk of developing RSI.
Nothing prevents you from still doing real exercise even if you have a keyboard made to minimize fingers movements: the two aren't incompatible.
Also 3 keeping one hand free, Douglas Englebart used a chording keyset during the mother of all demo, when using the mouse