Since the first appearance of the keyboard in 1967, its evolution has moved swiftly. Today, a variety of keyboards are available, meeting the needs of computer users in almost any environment. No longer are computers and keyboards chained to the workplace and the home office. They have found their ways into nearly every location and environment imaginable. Though several input devices are part of normal computer use including mouses, touchscreens, styluses, and voice recognition, the keyboard has maintained its position as the most popular and versatile input device used by humans.
In recent years, hospitals have begun to offer internet use to patients, bringing the keyboard into what is intended to be a sterile environment. As much as most users prefer to ignore the fact, the average keyboard is in fact dirtier than a toilet. For hospital use, the washable USB keyboard has made an appearance. These sealed surface backlit keyboards protect the internal mechanisms from sterilizing solutions, allowing hospitals to distribute keyboards safely to patients. Often, hospital keyboards come in both wired and wireless varieties. The backlit keyboard has also been incorporated into hospital keyboard design because it allows users to use the device even in the dark.
As computers have become more essential to medical providers, the slim low profile keyboard small as it is compared to other higher profile computers has become essential. This medical cart keyboard is also a backlit keyboard and remains unobtrusive in a medical environment. A low profile keyboard such as this can still be integrated with a medical user interface making it useful to those in the medical industry.
The rugged, spill resistant keyboard has also come into use because of the increase in computer use in a moving vehicle. These are also usually backlit keyboards, allowing for function in low light environments. For those who work in highly mobile environments like delivery trucks, such a keyboard can prove particularly useful.
The backlit keyboard has also proved useful for gaming purposes. A gaming keyboard, which is often more ergonomic than the average keyboard, is designed to be used in low lighting. Some are also illuminated rather than backlit, meaning that the entire surface of the keyboard glows. For those who are extremely invested in gaming, custom keyboards can be designed to a users specifications, including integrated pointing devices like trackballs and trackpads. Integrating a pointing device into a keyboard allows the user to use both functions without wasted or inefficient movement in a high intensity gaming situation.
The functions available on the modern keyboard are essentially as endless as the environments in which it is used. Highly specialized custom keyboards are available for virtually every use possible.