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Has anyone found an alternative to their TouchStreams?

PostPosted: 22 Jan 2006, 06:50
by hsg7
My second and last TouchStream keyboad has failed, the upper left keys such as 1, 2, and 3 have stopped generating characters. This is really depressing since I have grown to like these keyboards enormously over the nearly four years that I have been using them. I found that typing on these keyboards became smoother and more enjoyable over time, and their ergonomic eliminated all soreness in my fingers.

Has anyone found alternatives to the TouchStream? In using Google to search for ergonomic keyboards, I don't see anything that comes close to the TouchStream in terms of ergonomics, integrated mousing, and ability to map keys and modifiers around (especially control, Shift, escape, which I use heavily when using the emacs editor). The orbiTouch looks innovative but is likely too complicated for an emacs user since separate combinations are needed for ctrl, escape, shift.


PostPosted: 22 Jan 2006, 13:24
by ivanw
This is not reassuring as it might happen to anyone who use this device. This is the worst side effect of the decision made by Fingerworks staff to leave the scene in such the inelegant way they did :shock: All they've said about helping anyone while working at this great achievement is ruined by this. I sincerely hope that what you say here gets to their knowledge.

Westerman cannot get to receive all the confidence that people who trusted him to the point of spending thousands of hours at getting the skills required. Yes he can but, as nothing is for free, he has to deal with this deception. This is not that I make a judge of myself, I rather would like to settle a legitimate protest against this odd situation. I pretend to know that Wayne Westerman is not the kind of guy who can just ignore this aspect of his doings. This is not something you can ignore if you consider dignity as a human trait. Apple's men in black may have exhibited much money but I am sure that it was not enough to suppress any guilt...
Let's see what happens after the great track pad salvation they were busy on since last year.

I will come with some idea for using the left working part...

PostPosted: 22 Jan 2006, 16:23
by ivanw
Some tracks:
...if nothing comes out from all this, it is still possible to organize the lower part of the left pad to provide all the keys on a smaller surface with the Multitouch utilities... Let us know if you would use some advice/ideas..

PostPosted: 22 Jan 2006, 21:11
by goldfish
I wonder if they could restart fingerworks. I mean, if Apple came out with the first fingerworks tech product in February, they must have been developing it for months before. But fingerworks didn't seem to begin to shut down until february, when apple appears to have hired them full time to resolve problems. So it seems that apple could use their technology, and fingerworks could exist, at the same time.

Mr. Peanut said"Prof. Westerman was not a tenure-track professor so he is probably going to be there for awhile, but Prof. Elias (already a full professor) is taking an extended 2 year sabbatical at Apple." I wonder if we could convince them to restart fingerworks after their apple stint is over? (For Elias, that's just about a year from now).

PostPosted: 22 Jan 2006, 22:03
by ivanw
I am inclined to think that this Touchstream thing should not get lost as would some rubbish along the way of progress. Sure, money makers don't give a dam! But RSI or coolness have been enough motivation at first.
+1 for FingerWorks resumes operations as a business

PostPosted: 23 Jan 2006, 21:36
by VaderPi
Money makers should give a damn. The truth of the matter is that I would have paid twice as much as I did for my TouchStream. And hell, if you look at Ebay, many people have spent that much getting TouchStreams. So, I know that I am not alone in this. I researched mouse and keyboard replacements on and off for about a year before I finally decided to buy a TouchStream. Even at twice their original price, they would still me cheaper than many of the offerings out there. And strangely enough, from what I know, those companies are still "operating as a business".

PostPosted: 23 Jan 2006, 21:55
by jmadison
Agreed. Now that I have used my TS for several years, I absolutely can't imagine life without it. And, since my primary reason was to help alleviate some serious RSI pains, the cost almost didn't matter.

Strangely enough, I now consider my TS much, much more valuable than the laptop that I use every day. Being wintertime, I'm hyper concerned about static shock that could damage the TS. I've developed a funny habit of discharging myself first on my desk chair, then my work table, finally my usb port or laptop touchpad (yeah sounds crazy) before actually touching the surface of the TS. Maybe I'm paranoid, but my thought is this: The laptop is replacable, the TS is not. I don't care if I static shock the laptop to pieces... I've got my data backed up on the company server. But, if I loose my TS... it's serious RSI all over again because there is simply NO OTHER product that combines typing with mousing the way that the TS does... and as an engineer that does a lot of CAD work, I mouse a lot... a whole lot.

PostPosted: 23 Jan 2006, 22:09
by Rqyteqto
There's no question TS has the title for absolute shazamm in input systems. Its simply so far out there most people can't handle it. I show mine off whenever possible and for the most part, folks are somehwat impressed but its like you are a rocket scientist talking to a one mule farmer, 99% goes right over their heads. They get the touch typing thing, and the mousing is basically the same as any touchpad (which most people don't like) just bigger and there are two of them, but there is little apprciation of the finess of control possible and the gesturing is, well, its full greek, no comprendo whatsoever. Even when I show how you can open and close folders, zoom, pan, twist, move, forward/back, etc, its sort of like they are at the carnival and they really don't believe their eyes. I don't even go into the programing aspects and when I mention the price, a film comes down over their eyes and any spark of interest that might have flared slightly goes out to be replaced with a suspicious look of "Are you f*cking crazy, paying $400 for a keyboard?" After that its just a waste of time, they are convinced that I am under the influence of something that either rightfully is or definitely should be very illegal.

Still the same, TS is the future. I don't see anything out there that approaches its power. Its like the computer becomes an extension of your hands.

PostPosted: 23 Jan 2006, 23:37
by ivanw
That's it! ...looks like no one found an alternative to their TouchStreams!

It's quite amazing to see that you guys who have used this keyboard far more than I did are still so emotional about it. As I've got mine only since last May, I thought that I was still experiencing some late lust satisfaction. It appears that it lasts more than I expected ;)

Rqyteqto, you should quit showing your TS to your visitors! I mean, if you care about what people could tell to the police. If they start some investigation, you risk being discovered. Just keep under cover and wait a few more decades for someone to re-invent the technology.

Apple helped humanity to make a big step backwards :!: :!: :!:

BTW Rqyteqto, if you persist showing your thing to anyone who passes by, consider installing a webcam so that we can peep through :o
And by the way, be fair to those they don't believe their eyes, you should confess that there is a trick, just to make them feel more comfortable.

PostPosted: 24 Jan 2006, 14:25
by ken gray
ive not found an alternative and hope i never have to!

steve really needs to step up and be all forward thinking and put out a new boardq i'm just not sure what he would add to it. maybe two more columns of unassigned buttons, one on each side.

PostPosted: 24 Jan 2006, 21:51
by Rqyteqto
Not anyone passing by, just clients and friends. I often do presentations on the screen, its easier than plotting out the sheets and I can have a dozen or so up, just click through them, a lot easier than shuffling through a dozen 24" x 36" sheets.

Actually, one reason I love the TS is it reinforces the impression I am a wizard, which doing architecture is not a bad thing. Fact is it allowed me to dispence with the waist length silver hair and substantially reduce the volume of the equally silver beard.

But I think your are right, there are no serious alternatives to the TouchStream.

I suspect the manufacturing cost was high and the margin wasn't enough for the boys to make a decent, if any, sort of living. Maybe if they charged more, but that was a major downside to the product as it was.

Maybe Apple will produce a new board, I would hope so as if anyone could do it right, Apple could and most likely would. But I don't know if I should give up hope since its been nearly a year or simply remember Apple is as closed mouth on new releases as anyone can be. I certainly can't see them hiring the boys just to soup up their touch pads and/or jetison Synaptics. And while I could see them buying FW out for the patents why hire them if they aren't going to do something substantial with it.

PostPosted: 24 Jan 2006, 22:07
by ken gray
they probably kept them around to get it working on the new intel platform within the laptops. ie hardware hookups.

Something to look into?

PostPosted: 25 Jan 2006, 19:34
by Rqyteqto
Saw this somewhere, not sure its any improvement other than it would offer less of an impact when typing. Plus I like the notion of rolling your own. ... oard_1.asp

Re: Has anyone found an alternative to their TouchStreams?

PostPosted: 26 Jan 2006, 16:36
by Shawn_Milo
Yes, I've found a replacement.


However, I still use and love my iGesture.


PostPosted: 17 Feb 2006, 09:31
by martinptn
My biggest problem was more the mousing than typing to be honest - I am now using a Wacom Intuos Tablet, which I actually find better.

I use it conjunction with "strokeit" software to "gesture" many more commands than I ever could with my touchstream.

I now find I far prefer it......

I have seen a "no impact" keyboard that projects light onto anysurface you like, though I dont know how well it works? I imagine combined with a Wacom tablet the overall experience would be better than Fingerworks....... if the keyboard works well.

PostPosted: 17 Feb 2006, 10:35
by ivanw
martinptn wrote:My biggest problem was more the mousing than typing to be honest - I am now using a Wacom Intuos Tablet, which I actually find better.

I use it conjunction with "strokeit" software to "gesture" many more commands than I ever could with my touchstream.

I now find I far prefer it......

I have seen a "no impact" keyboard that projects light onto anysurface you like, though I dont know how well it works? I imagine combined with a Wacom tablet the overall experience would be better than Fingerworks....... if the keyboard works well.

You Win :D

PostPosted: 17 Feb 2006, 15:40
by -jeffB
martinptn wrote:I have seen a "no impact" keyboard that projects light onto anysurface you like, though I dont know how well it works? I imagine combined with a Wacom tablet the overall experience would be better than Fingerworks....... if the keyboard works well.

No gesture recognition, just pure typing, and no immediate prospects for getting the kind of multitouch tracking that a TouchStream provides. If all you want is zero-force typing, it should work, but I want gestures and keyboard-mouse integration.

PostPosted: 17 Feb 2006, 20:51
by Rqyteqto
"You Win" by ivanw

What does he win?

I looked at the soft-and-hard-ware he refers to, yeah, its an alternative, but I don't see how its any better or even equivalent. Maybe it works for martin but certainly not for me, mostly because its back to two different input devices. That's one of the greatest pluses of the TS, its a single element.

However, I think there might be some value in the stroke it software. I'd like to look into using it with the TS. It should work just as well with TS mousing as with any other standard mouse.

I do still have a soft spot for tablets, they were what I cut my teeth on when I first started using computers. I've never really used a mouse. The big advantage of tablets are: 1) the ability to accurately digitize something manually, though automated digitization is so good now its really not that important any more; and 2) the puck with its 16 programable buttons.

PostPosted: 17 Feb 2006, 22:01
by ivanw
What does he win?
That's it, just nothing :wink:

The Touchstream keyboard is so unique that I don't see the point of comparing it to something that can't be any close in any way. An when it came to its end, with such indisputable conclusion my case was lost.

I get more from this device every day but for a price: I have to dedicate much of my time and effort.
My conclusion would be: The less you are ready to work hard at learning how to use it, the more you are likely to find something better.
This is how you come to say that a whistle is better than a violin.

This said, strokeit is certainly worth a try. And using it with a Touchstream would be just great :wink:

PostPosted: 18 Feb 2006, 20:43
by Rqyteqto
"The less you are ready to work hard at learning how to use it, the more you are likely to find something better." - ivanw

I think that pretty much goes for nearly anything. In other words, you usually get back what you put into it. Applies to TS, software, computers in general, relationships, whatever. If you put little effort into something, it will reciprocate and give little value in return. Unfortunately, this critical lesson has been all but forgotten in our modern world. Now its all about instant, free rewards. How can you value that which requires nothing to obtain? In the end, everything becomes equally worthless and nothing has value.

I like your analogy of the whistle and the violin, but then thinking of those I know that whistle (just with lips, tongue and perhaps fingers) and the effort they expend to acheive their amazing results, I am not so sure. However I assume you are meaning a typical whistle that makes one or two notes and only requires that you blow into it.

PostPosted: 18 Feb 2006, 22:02
by ivanw
Right, I think it had to be said that Fingerworks devices were meant to be used with commitment in mind.

Even learning how to use a standard keyboard correctly requires much effort. I can tell about this because I considered it only after many years of using hunt and peck "technique". I was nearly certain that I would always consider touch typing as one of these things that only others can do. Just like this whistle technique you talk about. Well, in any case, this will have to wait after I'm satisfied with my keyboard expertise... :wink:

It was the TouchStream which finally forced me to learn touch typing. This is why I am in the mood of praising effort. But the rewards are gratifying. You have the impression that you are approaching mastery, something that can be only the result of much much work. May be most of this is an illusion, but it's there, and it is genuine.

I've got some arguments about this from reading about Alexander Technique. Yet I can't make my opinion because I did not find many documents on the Web. I would like to get more about muscle memory in order to do the right things at teaching mine. It looks like nobody has any scientific argumentation on the matter. This technique is what I've found any close to be serious enough.

Concerning StrokeIt, I've installed it and played with its effective customization capabilities. Now I have a new toy :wink:

PostPosted: 20 Feb 2006, 09:42
by martinptn
Much as I liked my fingerworks mini pad, I could not afford to wait around for another product to maybe come on the market - once they stopped trading I quickly realised that all the effort I had put into learning, customizing and using it was pretty much a waste of time. Its not something I rejoice, as I loved the fingerworks Pad, it was an excellent tool for me. I used it with the strokeit software with great success. But they are gone and I am still here with lots of work to do! I have no idea if you will ever see something similar on the market? Personally I just couldnt afford the risk of continuing with it. I have approximately 30 years of working life ahead of me, I really doubt my mini pad has 30 years of life in it!! I was terrafied that if I did not very quickly find a replacement I would simply not be able to work if it malfunctioned on me - and it will do sooner or later, or a coffee accidenenet of a hundred other things. I had been suffering with Wrist pain before I got the pad and cannot use a mouse for any length of time, so if I went back to a mouse I would quickly be out of work.

I Chose a Wacom tablet as they are a very well established firm, the strokeit Software is available in similar forms from others and is very well established type of software, so even if strokeit stopped - I could get similar. Both are reasonably priced (strokeit is free if you want). I dont think that learning and customizing these to suit myself will be wasted for a very long time.

The way I saw it I had a very simple choice, to either carry on with my fingerworks equipment until it eventually failed - which it will, then panic as I tried to replace it on ebay or something - and potentially spend an absolute fortune on hardware from a dead company, or not be able to replace it all - or you try and make do with something else. If I had to use something else I was making sure it was not going to dissapear on me again!! Cold decision, but its my caree

The other way I look at this is that it will seriously prolong the life of my fingerworks pad if I use alternatives.....

I honestly would advise anyone who liked fingerworks to try the setup I have, Its still gestural input whatever way you look at it. Not great for those with typing problems, but if mousing was your problem a wacom Tablet is better in my experience..

PostPosted: 20 Feb 2006, 12:15
by ivanw
All right, now I have a sense of what you had in mind when you said you have found something better than a Touchstream... It appears that you were talking of a better solution than having to depend on a doomed technology... I can only agree with that! I must say that I have the luxury of using this amazing device only because I am enthusiastic about it. Would I be concerned about RSI, no doubt I would see things otherwise.

PostPosted: 20 Feb 2006, 15:15
by jmadison
This is just my 2 cent's worth: I'm sticking with my TS until I have to do something else.

I understand martin's idea: Get on with something else since this hardware is basically doomed.

But I'm also in the same boat, and see things differently. I have RSI in both my hands, wrists, & forearms. The TS has significantly reduced the problem to something that I can manage with proper stretching, rest breaks, and so on. If not for the TS, I think I would have had to abandon Engineering choose a different line of work. I've had my TS for around 3 years (has it really been that long?!?) and I've put a whole lot of effort into it... learning DVORAK, gesturing, and so on. At this point I'm not willing to abandon this solution unless I need to. So, I'll wait for it to die.... if it must eventually. I'll hope that alternatives will only get better as time passes. And, I'll hang on to the hope that if my TS does die on me, there will be a new FingerWorks alive and well producing similar devices for guys like me.

All that said, I'd like to thank everyone who's tried something else and posted their infomation and evaluation for us to read. I've been keeping a bookmark list of every alternative device and software that has been suggested here so that if/when the day comes that I have to give up my TS and go to something else, I'll have a good list of places to start looking to make my decision. Thank you especially to each person here for reporting their findings in an understandable way. Since we, the few, understand the FingerWorks method (and most of the world dosen't) it makes your reviews of alternative products especially helpful. Many thanks.


PostPosted: 20 Feb 2006, 20:36
by Rqyteqto
I am happy for any and all alternative suggestions. Plus all the other stuff that gets fluffed up in the process. Strokeit looks to be a nice addition to the basic FW regimen. Thanks for that. The other hardware, well, not so applicable for me but its nice to know its out there if and when. As for Wacom being around for a long time, just watch the opening scenes of 2001 for a lesson in what can happen to corporations, there was a time when it was inconceivable that PanAm and TWA would not be major players (if not THE major players) in the air industry, yet while the movie is still pretty fresh technically, PanAm is not even around. Nor TWA.

That's not to say I don't like tablets, I teethed on tablets. Actually I have never used a mouse. To me the tablet is so superior to a mouse I've never understood why mice exist. But then I don't understand a lot of things that seem so clear to the rest of the world. I suppose its another example of that commitment thing, 3 buttons are a lot easier to learn and use than 16. I went from tablets to touchpads because I went from desktops to notebooks. When I come to a point when travel was getting too difficult anyway, I slipped back to desktops (SFF) and went for the TS.

RSI, while I am fortunate to not suffer from it now, is always waiting in the wings, there was a time when I couldn't hold a pencil or pick up a book. I never know, nor does anyone else, when that time may come again or for the first time.

So I too am grateful for any and all alternatives. I may not use some, at least for now, but its nice to know they exist. Nonetheless, the notion that commitment to whatever you do and use remains. If you don't give it your best, you won't get back the best of what it has to offer.

By the way ivanw, thanks for the links to the Alexander Technique, another totally fascinating subject to distract me from my work. If this continues, it soon won't matter much if I have alternatives for work or not, I will have way too much else to deal with. Thanks again to all of you, you help keep my life fresh and interesting.