The widespread use of computers has allowed companies to create software-based versions of traditionally hardware-based objects such as music players or industrial controls. Consumers don’t realize that many of the devices they use are really just computers fitted with custom silicone keypads instead of traditional keyboard and mouse controls.

Why Use Software-Based Devices?

Hardwired electronics are limited in many ways over software solutions. A hardware device can’t be upgraded or configured the same way a software application can so isn’t as versatile or convenient for the end users.

Early attempts at software devices, or virtual electronics, were designed to be run on desktop computers. However consumers and manufacturers found the keyboard and mouse controls weren’t as convenient or intuitive as other types of controls. Often, applications used a display that was a simulation of typical electronics controls that could be operated with mouse clicks and drags. While this works for some devices, others are limited by the lack of portability of even a laptop. Companies are restricted in aesthetic and branding design concepts since a computer looks like any other computer. What was needed was a method of blending the benefits of software applications with traditional electronic device concepts.

Drawing Inspiration From Digital Video Recorders

DVRs, or Digital Video Recorders, have become very common in today’s households and yet most consumers don’t realize these useful devices are not designed like a DVD player or VCR. Open one up and you see a processor, hard drive and other components you would expect to find inside a desktop computer. In fact, DVRs are computers running video software through an operating system such as Linux.

Manufacturers have eliminated cumbersome computer input devices and replaced them with custom silicone keypads on the remote controls and the devices themselves. These controls are more intuitive and more convenient in a typical home than struggling with a keyboard or mouse from the living room recliner would be.

Turning Your Product Into Dedicated Computers

Creating standalone computers with custom silicone keypads gives manufacturers the versatility of a computer application along with the familiarity and portability of traditional electronics. It limits compatibility problems since the developer has full control over hardware, drivers and operating system.

Development of the product can be carried out on any standard computer. After the software application has been perfected, creation of the physical device is now a matter of fitting standard computer components inside a custom case. Inputs from custom silicone keypads are easily translated into signals the program understands as easily as keyboards, and molded keypads have other advantages such as water and chemical resistance.

Let the design experts at Si Tech help you create an external control scheme for your dedicated computer appliance that will give your customers better control than a keyboard or mouse will.