To best understand what is going on in the photo above, click play on the video below then stare at the photo of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak wearing white three piece tuxedos...Something about "Give me a HO if you got your funky bus fare...HO!"
Robert Scoble A.K.A. "The Scobleizer" is one of the best known tech evangelists and recently Robert gave the BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform two thumbs way up when he said:
"I love my BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform and depend on it every day. The eXpress has become an essential tool as part of my desktop workstation! It is very comfortable and freed up so much of my desktop real estate. I also love the fact I can easily use it on my lap as well. As you can imagine, I scour through tons of tech and very rarely come across something truly useful like the BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform." –Robert Scoble (November 2012)
This video of Robert Scoble commenting on his BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform on his desktop just came in today:
"Hop on the BulletTrain for a streamlined keyboard and trackpad combo."
Here are some nice quotes from the iPhoneLife.com online review: "Many iOS users are also Mac users, like myself, so if you have a Mac, and an Apple wireless keyboard, and an Apple Magic Trackpad, pay attention! I have all of the above, but I found that I didn't use the trackpad that much. Rather than slide my hand off to the right, past my Magic Mouse, to the trackpad, and risking Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and lose time, I prefer the design of Apple's laptops, with the trackpad just below the spacebar. So, with that in mind, I was pleased to see the BulletTrain Express at last year's MacWorld. I finally got a chance to play with it, and I'm even more impressed."
"The Express Keyboard and Trackpad Platform looks like it should have been designed and built by Apple themselves!" –iPhoneLife Magazine
"The BulletTrain Express is great for couch surfing and also daily text entry if you prefer the MacBook style, as I do. My old trackpad went from being barely used to a major part of my data entry routine, thanks to the BulletTrain Express. It works great on the desk, but shines on the lap, for couch surfing! It was clearly designed for this, which a comfortable bottom. There's really nothing else like it...and I've looked." "Here's hoping that Apple bring Bluetooth support to the current or a future Apple TV. When they do, the BulletTrain Express will be even more useful. I also have a protective keyboard cover from KB Covers on my Apple wireless keyboard, and while its a snug fit, it works with the Express."
"The folks at BulletTrain are also working on a combination wallet iPhone case that, while it doesn't claim to be bulletproof it proposes to offer rock solid protection for your iPhone and room for credit cards and ID. The wallet component folds out, forming a stand for landscape and portrait use."
When I originally built the first prototype of the BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform back in 2010 that reconfigured the Bluetooth Apple Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad into a keyboard tray or platform, my goal was not to make the best looking desktop keyboard, or to free up more than 50% or your precious desktop real estate.
My goal was to create the most ergonomic and comfortable keyboard. Having previously suffered from Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI), I was on a mission to figure out how to stop RSI, as well as Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. Ironically, I developed RSI by using a Microsoft "Natural" ergonomic wave keyboard along with a Kensington trackball.
Over the years I have spoken with many, many customers who have told me that by using the BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform, it not only reversed their RSI, but cured it–permanently. I should know, because I am one of them. It is hard to believe something so simple works so well, and it does.
Whenever I speak with a customer on the phone, I ask them two questions. First I ask them what Mac they are using their eXpress with, and I ask them how they found out about the BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform? Customers most typically answer the later question by saying something like, "I bought an Apple wireless keyboard and trackpad, and the trackpad was way too difficult to use, and felt awkward having it located next to my keyboard. I did an internet search and looked at all the different solutions, and ended up concluding that the BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform was by far and away the best, and I couldn't fine anything else that even came close."
Real Customer Care
Printed on the inside of every BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform box it says "We Really, Really, Really Care." This is absolutely true. There is nothing more rewarding as a designer than knowing I significantly helped improve the quality of a person's life, particularly when it comes to how they use or benefit from using a computer. I believe that computing devices, coupled with the internet, and world-class search engines are the key to unlocking mankind's full intellectual potential. As a designer, I not only want to make certain that nobody is left behind, but that every person is able to optimize their computing experience. I coined the term "friction-free computing" many years ago, and this phrase is my guiding light with BulletTrain design.
Over the years I have spoken with many of my customers who suffered from all kinds of physical handicaps they were able to overcome with the BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform! This includes not only people who suffer from Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI), and Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), but also people who suffer from severe Motor Neuron Disease (MND), as well as Tendonitis and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). I have also spoken with customers who are paraplegic and are confined to a wheelchair who have personally thanked me for bringing the BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform to life, and sharing with me how profound of a positive effect the eXpress had on their ability to use their computer.
How serious are the ergonomic issues? Very Serious! I strongly believe keyboard and mice usage will become the new cigarettes of the 21st century. In other words, as the computer generation advances, and more people develop cumulative trauma disorders, the world will look back and point the finger at old-fashioned keyboard and mice.
I believe there is a still tremendous room for improvement on the keyboard and pointing device front. If you examine an original Mac from 1984 to a 2012 iMac, they could not be more night and day. One has a tiny black and white screen and the other has a super high-resolution screed with super-vivid colors. Same thing with every other computer attribute including RAM and storage capacity, as well as CPU speed. But the keyboard and mouse is almost identical. The only real difference is that they went cordless. This is ironic because the keyboard and pointing device are probably the most important part of the computing experience, because this is the primary mechanism by which we interact with the computer. At BulletTrain, in the upcoming years, we intend to continue to revolutionize the keyboard and pointing devices in deeply profound and meaningful ways.
A Superb Solution
Last week I was talking to a customer and he mentioned he had an elderly friend named Kay who was 82 years old and really smart and sharp, but suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis in her hands. He mentioned he took her to the Apple store and helped her purchase and iPad. Kay brought the iPad home and tired desperately to use it, but in the end she had no choice to return it, because her sever arthritis stopped her from being able to use the touch interface effectively.
Kay's and her friend were able to setup a Mac Mini with a big screen so she could sit in front of it in her favorite recliner. Using a mouse was obviously not an option, so Kay tried to use her Apple Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard and Magic Trackpad by balancing them on her lap, but it was impossible to use, and she could not click on her trackpad because it kept falling off her lap onto the floor, so Kay did what many of our customers do out of desperation and necessity–they attempt to build their own BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform. The photo below shows Kay with her "DIY" Do it yourself BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform, which consists of a her Apple keyboard and trackpad being balanced on top of a coffee table book.
Kay's self-made solution allowed her to overcome her challenge and finally be able to use her mac. The only challenge is she had the keyboard hanging off the edge of the spine of the book, and the trackpad still moved around, not to mention the added weight of the book.
When Kay's freind saw her self-made solution, he decided that somebody had to have addressed this same issue. I spoke with him on the phone and he told me he did an internet search and had looked at every other solution, which would not work, so he called me on the phone to discuss if the BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform might allow Kay to completely overcome her solution.
First he asked if Kay got a BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform, would she be able to press down on the trackpad and receive the positive tactile-feedback click to which I positively answered, yes. His second question was, would it be comfortable on her lap? I mentioned the BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform is extremely light-weight at just over a pound, yet very strong and stable. I also mentioned I designed the bottom chassis to ergonomically fit perfectly in your lap.
The photo above shows Kay with her dog sitting next to her, with her BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform on her lap, which allows her to completely participate in the digital age–which most people take for granted. Since Kay has sever arthritis, the BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform gives her an ergonomic wrist and palm rest so she can navigate the screen with her trackpad and type comfortably. Apple claims to go out of their way to create solutions for handicapped people, which they refer to as "Accessibility" features.
I know Apple is well intentioned and does much great work, but there is much, much room for improvement in this area. I am calling on Apple to please open up the API on the iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch so it can be used and controlled with the Magic Trackpad. Doing so would allow many, many handicapped people to be able to much more effectively use their iPads.
I am also calling on Apple to do the same by opening up the API on the Apple TV to be able to use the Bluetooth Apple Wireless Keyboard and Trackpad as well. Doing so will open up a whole new world of possibilities for everyone. For example, Kay could simply plug in an iPad or iPad Mini via HDMI to her flat screen TV and use the BulletTrain eXpress Keyboard Platform to do everything should she can't do on an iPad because of her arthritis, not to mentioned, it would be much easier for her to see everything on her large flat TV screen than on a tiny iPad screen. Everything would be better including her ability to watch movies on the big screen.
Also, by using her Apple Magic Trackpad to navigate her iPad she could not get fingertip oils rubbed all over her iPad screen, which she would have to constantly clean off. Apple, it is time to make the "Magic" Trackpad live up to its name and full potential!!!
I was speaking with a BulletTrain customer yesterday and her name is Regina. Regina suffers from arthritis and told me she desperately needed a BulletTrain Express Keyboard Platform. I asked her to tell me more, and she told me that she could not wait to get a BulletTrain Express Keyboard Platform, since she was currently using here Apple trackpad box and another Apple box to simulate having a BulletTrain Express Keyboard Platform. I asked here to take a photo and send it in so I could see what she was talking about, and here it is. Fascinating captain!!!
Several people have asked me if the BulletTrain SAFE Wallet is RFID safe? This is a fairly complex issue, that is clearly a coin with two sides. I have invested a great deal of time doing research on the issue, and I have concluded that RFID theft is likely an urban myth, perpetuated by people who wish to benefit from driving consumers by their fear, so they can sell them RFID safe wallets.
Basically, RFID identity theft is like Bigfoot or the Lock Ness Monster. Many people have heard about it, but nobody has ever actually seen it. I am completely open-minded, and if you have information that refutes this conclusion, by all means post a comment on this post.
First a little background. RFID is the acronym for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID is a technology that embeds a super-small microchip in to a small vehicle like a credit card that can be read with an RFID Reader. Credit Cards with RFID can typically only be read from within 4 inches or less from an RFID reader RFID chips can be embedded in many different types of objects, ranging from pre-paid public transit cards, to clothing. RFID chips are sometimes referred to as and RFID transponder, because the chip typically has read/write memory and an antenna. There are two types of RFID chips, or tags. The first is known as active RFID because it has its own power source, and they typically can be read from greater ranges. The second type which are passive tags lack any power. A passive RFID tag is temporarily activated by Radio Frequency generated by RFID readers. A typical example of this would be a credit card sized device used to open doors by swiping it past an RFID reader. RFID tags are also used today as an alternative to bar code readers since RFID tags don't require and unobstructed line-of-sight between the reader and the tag. This helps in supply chain management in places like a store, where readers can easily keep track of inventory on store shelves, instead of having humans have to manually scan barcodes. RFID tags are used today keeping track of all kinds of things, including injectable ID chips for tracking wildlife, and keeping inventory for livestock.
NFC-The New Kid In Town
The newest form of RFID that everbody is talking about is called Near Field Communication which is commonly referred to in its abbreviated acronym form as NFC. NFC is based upon a set of standards for smartphones and other devices which uses two-way radio communication between devices, which is typically achieved by bumping or touching them together, or positioning them in close proximity, which is typically less than an inch. NFC is based upon a standard protocol that defines data exchange formats, and is based upon RFID standards including ISO/IEC 14443 and FeliCa. The NFC Forum which governs NFC protocols today has more than 150 members and was founded in 2004 by Nokia, Philips and Sony. NFC typically operates within a distance of 4 inches or less, and typically requires little power to operate. NFC differs from traditional RFID systems because it allows two-way communication between endpoints. RFID systems like contactless smart cards only allowed one way communication. NFC embedded devices are being used today in contactless mobile payment systems in place of credit cards and electronic tickets. Google Wallet is a good example of this technology which allows people to store credit card and loyalty card info virtually, and they use NFC enabled terminals that also accept credit cards. I took the photo of one of these terminals recently, which I saw in Walgreens in San Francisco. Apple has not yet adopted and does not support NFC. NFC is becoming increasingly popular throughout Europe, India and Japan. NFC can ride piggyback and work in conjunction with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth protocols, which allows some smartphones to transfer data and music to each other. Essentially, the transaction begins with an NFC handshake, then gets switch to pier-to-pier Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. NFC is also being used with one tap to setup a handshake between two NFC-enabled devices to facilitate paring Bluetooth speakers or headsets, as well as pairing a smartphone with a TV, so the phone can broadcast its screen to the TV. NFC can even be used in multiplayer gaming on smartphones. NFC is an ideal solution because it avoids the confusion, complexity and typical hassles that come with pairing devices. NFC supports encryption, so it is typically safer than old-fashioned RFID, which is what began this controversy this article addresses.
RFID technology is controversial due to the fact that people believe RFID chips can easily be cloned or used for other nefarious purposes. In the early days of RFID, it was not nearly as secure as it is today. RFID as a term first appeared in 1983 in a patent issued to Charles Walton. In 1995 RFID was first described in a wallet paying patent. In 2004, Nokia, Philips and Sondy established the Near Field Communication (NFC) Forum, and in 2006 Nokia was the first to offer an NFC enabled phone. It was not until 2009, that the NFC Forum published Peer-to-Peer communications that could piggyback on Wi-Fi and BlueTooth.
RFID Safe Wallets
There are merchants who sell "RFID" blocking wallets, meaning the chips cannot be read because there is a metal substrate inside the wallet that supposedly blocks the chip from transmitting or being read. The most common substrate used in these RFID blocking wallets is aluminum. There are videos on the web that warn that a person with an RFID scanner can rub up against you, and instantly scan your card and get your credit card number, expiration date and 3 number security code. But is this a real threat? I did a lot of investigating into this subject and was not able to find any evidence that it exists today in 2013. I have yet to meet a person who has their identity compromised with or by this supposed technology. The reason this is significant, is when I designed the BulletTrain SAFE Wallet, I thought it would be a benefit to be able to swipe your BulletTrain SAFE Wallet with an RFID card in it, without having to open and remove your RFID card. Specific examples of the benefit of this would be with being able to swipe a public transportation card, like a Clipper Card, in San Francisco. Plus, there is something James Bond cool-like about just swiping your BulletTrain SAFE Wallet and gaining entry through a door.
So are RFID cards safe? According to Consumer Reports, as of 2011 the number of contactless RFID cards in circulation in the U.S. is only 3.5% of the total debit and credit cards in use, and thus they do not represent a significant target to lure criminals, particularly since traditional magnetic strip cards are so much more easily counterfeited. In other words, it is approximately 30 times more likely somebody will record the magnetic stripe on your card and clone it, than try to scan your RFID card. Consumer Reports said in 2011: "The Smart Card Alliance, an industry group, maintains that contactless card technology deployed by American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa is secure and that there have been no reports of consumers being victimized. American Express says its contactless cards do not reveal the card account number, and that was the case in the demonstration we observed." Consumer Reports continues: "Shields or wallets marketed as RFID-blocking devices can make it more difficult for someone with an electronic reader to read your cards, but they don’t entirely block transmission of card data. When Recursion’s security experts tested 10 types of shields and wallets currently being sold to protect contactless cards, they found that none blocked the signal completely, and there was dramatic variability even among samples of the same brand. Using a different approach, Recursion’s experts created a credit-card-sized jamming device for the wallet that prevents cards from responding to any reader." "Our reporter offered her own homemade shield constructed of duct tape and lined with aluminium foil. It provided better protection than eight of the 10 commercial products, including a stainless-steel “RFID blocking” wallet selling online for about $60." Consumer Reports concludes" "Bottom line. Until contactless-card security is improved or better protective devices are widely available, consumers can ask for cards that are not RFID-enabled, a request that at least some major card issuers say they will honor." So the real question is whether or not the Smart Card Alliance is telling the truth when they say there have been no reports of consumers being victimized? I see no reason why they would lie. If it was a serious issue, the credit card companies would not issue RFID or NFC cards. From the research I have conducted, it seems like an urban myth, like Bigfoot or The Lochness Monster. Everybody talks about them and is familiar with them, but like the tooth ferry, they don't exist. Ironically, the whole RFID Protection Scam Notion is a scam itself for unethical companies to take advantage of consumer fear to sell them something they don't need–kind of like offering people clear plastic vinyl to protect and cover their furniture. In other words its like having to hire a bodyguard to protect you from your bodyguard. It just doesn't make any real sense (pun intended ;-).
As I suggested earlier, if you have information that refutes this, please leave a comment.
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The BulletBlog by JAKEe covers all things BulletTrain, and Apple. The BulletBlog also covers high-quality, high-tech gear and everything cool.
The BulletBlog by JAKEe is published by Jake Ehrlich, the Designer and CEO of BulletTrain. Jake is renowned for being one of the most prolific bloggers today. To see more of his blogs, scroll to the bottom of the posts on this page.