This seems to be the day for keyboards. First, I wrote a review of the Scosche freeKEY flexible and water-resistant Bluetooth keyboard. Now we have word from CreativeBits of a wonderful keyboard mod that uses the tactile feel of sandblasted wood grain on a standard Apple keyboard to "strengthen the relationship between user and interface."
Designer Michael Roopenian's stated goal was to "enhance user's connections to their keyboards through texture and variation." His website shows research into the most used keys on the keyboard, the keys that are depressed by each finger, and drawings of other ideas he looked at. Those included keys sculpted into a large relief of the letter's shape, and keys that were each topped with a different material for a unique feel.
After user testing, Roopenian found that users wanted a consistent and uniform design, coupled with a logical variation in the surface. His solution was to use wood with a deeply sandblasted grain. As you can see in the screenshot above, the result is an attractive wood surface that provides users with tactile feedback.
While Roopenian's Engrain Keyboard may not be practical for many Mac users, it's great to see that designers are continuing their search for the perfect interface device.