HP shows off its washable keyboard

Summary:The technology is called SpillSeal, but the final product is cheap as chips. The present suggested retail price for the washable keyboard is $40.

I saw a washable keyboard today. I even took a picture of it.

Problem is, it didn't look like anything special. It was just a keyboard.

And this was very washable, which made the HIMSS health IT conference the perfect place to show it off. You can not only use bleach or detergent, but all those special chemicals used on biohazards of all sorts.

The HP "solution engineers" who showed it to me said the technology is called SpillSeal, but the final product is cheap as chips. The present suggested retail price for the washable keyboard is $40.

HP has been showing the technology in its booths for a few months now. It stood out at HIMSS because of the nature of the environment, filled as it is with precious bodily fluids and workers who would love a clean keyboard because they know full well what germs can do.

Best of all the technology can applied to any design of keyboard. In a few months, the engineers said, they will have one without a wire in the back, just a USB connector. Plug WiFi or Bluetooth into that bad boy and you're wireless.

Or you can put it on high end keyboards, such as the $60 "hill" type I use at my office, with each hand on one side of a little hill so it feels like you're playing a virtual accordion.

You know the way people "wash" keyboards now? My good wife demonstrated a few weeks ago, when she finally decided to attack my workspace with her mad cleaning skills.

She picked it up, turned it over, and shook vigorously, It was like a snowstorm inside, with bits of old popcorn, hairs, dandruff, and what-all raining down on my embarrassed head.

Of course, she noted, that didn't really clean it. You can't clean a keyboard, she said.

Oh, yeah? Now you can.

Do you have any idea how many laptops this SpillSeal technology could save? How many teenagers? That's a two-bagger with me. I've got a teenager with a laptop. I don't want to have to buy a new PC next time he "accidentally" spills his Coke onto the keys.

Now I won't have to.

Few tech stories in the last year have given me as good a feeling as this one.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation


Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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